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Fury of vulnerable witnesses after ID info leaked online

Patrick McGuire
Patrick McGuire

CONFIDENTIAL details of some of Scotland’s most vulnerable people were leaked online by an organisation meant to protect their welfare.

The names, emails, phone numbers and computer addresses of around 50 people across the country were obtainable on the website of the Scottish Appropriate Adult Network (SAAN).

The group works with those who are mentally impaired and need help when involved in the justice system, whether giving evidence or being interviewed by police.

However, scores of people have had their personal details made publicly available.

The website was shut down yesterday after The Sunday Post alerted the organisation.

Lawyers, social workers, former police officers and carers are among those affected, as well information about rape victims and domestic abuse cases being detailed online. People who have volunteered to become an appropriate adult have also had their details shared publicly.

In a further blow, the organisation was contacted about the breach last year but failed to take action.

One message sent on March 21 2016, stated: “I came across a log from your website. It looks as if it contains private information which you may not wish to be seen by the public. Please take a look at this as if my details were on this list I would be unimpressed.”

One 19-year-old has had his phone number, email and details of a police witness interview revealed online.

The teenager, who has Asperger’s, said the breach has put his safety at risk.

He said: “The data leak is disgusting and action should have been taken earlier.”

SAAN’s interim chairwoman Karen Donoghue said they did not receive any of the messages sent to them due to the error with the site.

She said: “As soon as we were notified of the difficulties, we took immediate action and the website is unavailable until the issue has been resolved.”

Patrick McGuire, a partner at Thompson’s Solicitors, said the breach opens up the possibility of lawsuits, and added: “Potentially vulnerable people should not expect to have their details compromised like this.

“This would appear to be a glaring breach of the Data Protection Act.

“The organisation could be fined, and any individual whose data has been disclosed could be entitled to compensation.”

The Information Commissioner’s Office has now launched a probe after being contacted by The Sunday Post.