Date: 22nd November 2007
Release date: Immediate
Subject: Gordon Henderson calls for truth over data disc scandal
LOCAL Tory Parliamentary Candidate, Gordon Henderson, has called on the Government to tell the truth about the loss of two computer discs containing the private and personal details, including bank account details, of thousands of local people who claim benefits.
The discs were sent by unrecorded post from the Tyneside office of HM Revenue and Customs to the National Audit Office in London.
‘This scandalous and incompetent act will have left many local people concerned about having their identities stolen and their bank accounts accessed.
‘It’s all very well the Government saying that people have nothing to fear, because bank accounts are covered by the Banking Code, but sometimes that code is worthless. For instance I know of shops that have had cheques bounce despite being supported by a bank guarantee card.
‘The banks refused to honour the cheques using the argument that although the signature on the cheque was identical to that on the bank card, both signatures were different to the signature held by the bank. When it was pointed out that the shops didn’t have access to the correct signature, so wouldn’t know that both were forgeries, the banks brushed this logic aside and still refused to pay up! How do we know some banks won’t use a similar get out clause on this occasion? How easy will it be for people to prove that they have been caught up in this scandal?
‘More to the point, how on earth can we trust the reassurances of a Government that refuses to tell the truth about this fiasco? On Tuesday the Chancellor told the House of Commons that the delay in announcing the lost discs was so that banks could put in place security procedures. Now the banks are saying that they did not ask for a delay, indeed, it now transpires that the banks only found out about the loss last Friday and were given until Monday to sort it out. That doesn’t fill me with confidence that the accounts of local people will be properly protected if those discs fall into the wrong hands.
‘We now know that two more discs were lost in the post a few weeks ago. Those discs contained National Insurance numbers. The Government needs to tell the truth about exactly how many people are affected by the loss of those discs.’