If she does claim it, it will be the second time they have had to pay out for breaching the Data Protection Law.Data Protection Registrar Michael Smith is on the verge of issuing another enforcement order on the Housing Committee because the president had acted ‘knowingly and recklessly’ when Deputy Terry Le Main released the details.His decision comes despite the Attorney General’s decision not to prosecute the committee for the infraction.
Mr Smith has also decided to publish his report into the tenant’s complaint on his website.The complaint was made almost 12 months ago after Deputy Le Main contacted the mother of a States tenant, claiming that she had abandoned her accommodation in a ‘terrible’ state and that he had concerns for the welfare of her grandchildren.
He also disclosed the woman’s rent arrears.Deputy Le Main then repeated his allegations in an e-mail sent to several States Members.The tenant complained to the Data Protection Registrar that Deputy Le Main had broken the law by disclosing her rent details to her mother.In his report Mr Smith says that the arrears could be classified as ‘data’ under the law and that Deputy Le Main’s unauthorised disclosure of them to a third party constituted a breach.
He said the further allegations about the state of the house and the woman’s fitness to be a mother were outside of the law because they were opinions, not data.Having decided that a breach had been committed, Mr Smith referred the case to Attorney General William Bailhache, but after a police investigation he decided not to prosecute.Mr Smith believes he was still right to refer the matter to the Attorney General, as it was the second time that similar breaches had been committed.
In the first Deputy Le Main released the rent details of tenant Kim Noble in a letter to the JEP and the committee were forced to pay her compensation.Mr Smith told the JEP: ‘As an enforcement notice was issued in the previous case, this second breach could be deemed as being knowing and reckless under the law and therefore justified a further review by the Attorney General for a possible offence.’He says that the committee’s previous infraction means that ‘mitigation may be difficult to uphold in this case’.He also says the case highlights wider problems with the Island’s legislation which is due to be updated to include all information and not just that held on computer.