The Ministry of Justice revealed today that data relating to three independent judge-led inquiries has been lost.
Government officials became aware on 8 January that two discs were missing, relating to the Azelle Rodney inquiry, the Robert Hamill inquiry and the Mark Duggan inquest. All three have completed their work, although the Hamill inquiry has yet to publish its full report.
The discs had been dispatched by post and have not yet been found. The incident will revive memories of the 2007 loss of two discs containing national insurance data by the Department for Work and Pensions, which led to high-level resignations.
In a statement released today, the MoJ said treasury solicitor’s lawyers have been commissioned to undertake a review of all the documents in question to identify any confidential or sensitive information that might be in the public domain.
Individuals will be contacted, where appropriate, to inform them of any personal information that was on the missing discs.
One member of staff has been suspended while investigations take place into how the incident was able to happen, and disciplinary action will follow if appropriate.
An independent review has also been commissioned to look at the circumstances of the data loss. It will report to both the MoJ and Cabinet Office.
The MoJ said: ‘The government takes information security extremely seriously, and this incident is a breach of the arrangements that should be in place.
‘At this stage there is no evidence to indicate that the information loss arose from malicious intent. Nevertheless, it is essential to take the most precautionary view and to take all necessary steps to safeguard the interests of anyone whose information could be disclosed.’
All three inquiries will involve potentially sensitive information about witnesses involved. Both Rodney and Duggan were killed by police marksmen in London, while Hamill was killed in 1997 in Northern Ireland by a group of loyalists.