James Forsyth

This failure won’t obscure the government’s failure for long

This failure won't obscure the government's failure for long
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The failure of Steve McClaren’s England team last night has knocked the HMRC debacle off some off the front pages but it is certain that this story will be back. First, blaming some idiot junior member of staff—as Brown and Darling have been doing—just won’t cut it as a senior manager appears to have known that the full set of data was to be sent to the National Audit Office. Second, there has been a pattern of carelessness with people’s personal information at HMRC that the press are now turning their attention to. The Times reports this morning,

The HMRC has a history of losing sensitive information on unencrypted CDs. This month it emerged that it had lost confidential data on more than 15,000 people after a CD-ROM was lost in transit as it was sent from its office to the Standard Life pensions department in Edinburgh. A further CD-Rom containing data on customers of an unnamed second company was also reportedly missing. The Information Commissioner is investigating the breach involving Standard Life. A spokesman for the company said yesterday that HMRC and the police had not been able to locate the discs. 

In August a laptop that contained sensitive financial details of about 400 people with ISAs was stolen after being left in a car. In May HMRC posted details of the family tax credits of 42,000 families to other people after an apparent “printer error”. This story will still be running long after Steve McClaren has cleared his desk.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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