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Hospital gopher fined for prying into ex's family records

Court dishes out £1,500 bill for data breach

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A former healthcare assistant at Royal Liverpool university hospital has been fined £500 and been ordered to pay £1,000 towards prosecution costs after she unlawfully accessed the medical records of five members of her ex-husband's family.

Juliah Kechil accessed the records of the five individuals between July and November 2009 in an effort to obtain their new telephone numbers.

The hospital launched an investigation in November 2009 when the defendant's former father-in-law contacted the hospital after receiving nuisance calls which he suspected had been made by Kechil. He told the hospital that he was concerned that there had been a breach of the Data Protection Act.

Checks by the hospital revealed that all of the patients whose details had been compromised were not at any time under the medical care of Ms Kechil and that she had no work related reasons to access their records. The breaches were traced through audit trails linked to the defendant's smartcard ID. Kechil was also ordered to pay a £15 victim surcharge by Liverpool city magistrates court.

Steve Eckersley, head of enforcement at the Information Commissioner's Office, said: "Unlawfully obtaining other people's information for personal gain is a serious offence which can have potentially devastating effects. Ms Kechil accessed medical records for entirely personal reasons. The breach of their privacy would obviously have been very distressing for the individuals involved.

"People should be able to feel confident that their personal details will be stored securely and only accessed when there is a legitimate business need. We will always push for the toughest penalties against individuals who abuse this trust."

This article was originally published at Guardian Government Computing.

Guardian Government Computing is a business division of Guardian Professional, and covers the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. For updates on public sector IT, join the Government Computing Network here.

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