Two sacked for Dando `snooping'

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The Independent Online
TWO BANK staff were sacked yesterday for illegally accessing private financial details relating to the murdered television presenter Jill Dando.

The staff were dismissed after a disciplinary hearing called by their employees, Lloyds TSB, which said their behaviour amounted to gross misconduct. A third employee has been suspended while the bank carries out further inquiries.

The sackings came after a credit agency used by Lloyds TSB informed the bank that a number of credit checks had been made into the finances of Ms Dando, who was fatally shot on the doorstep of her home in Fulham, west London, on 26 April.

The staff would have had access to details of Ms Dando's previous homes as well as her income and any debts or loans she may have had. A company spokeswoman said that while some members of staff would have legitimate reasons for making such searches, it was easy to trace which staff had accessed the database.

The two staff members worked for Lloyds UDT - the Edinburgh-based motor finance arm of the bank - which employs 75 staff.

It is understood that at the hearing in Edinburgh, the two staff members gave no explanation for their behaviour, which was uncovered by Lloyds' own investigators. It is understood no third party had been involved and they were not paid for the information.

"All staff know it is gross misconduct to make unauthorised searches or access unauthorised data," said the spokeswoman.

"We very much regret any distress caused to the friends and family of Ms Dando. The investigation is ongoing."

In a separate development, Ms Dando's body was yesterday released for burial by the West London coroner, Dr John Burton, following discussions with Detective Chief Inspector Hamish Campbell, the police officer heading the murder inquiry.

It is understood there will now be a private funeral service in Weston- super-Mare, the town where she grew up and first entered journalism.

It is not known whether the presenter - known for her appearances on the Holiday programme and Crimewatch - will be buried or cremated.