Court case data discs go missing

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The Independent Online

Personal details from court cases contained on four CDs have gone missing in the post, the Government said today.

The Ministry of Justice launched an investigation after the information was lost when it was sent recorded delivery.

A spokeswoman would not comment on a report that the missing courtroom data discs contained details of at least 55 defendants and other restricted data not released in open court, potentially including the names and addresses of alleged victims and witnesses.

The newspaper also said the discs were posted on December 15.

The MoJ released a brief statement which said: "Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Court Administration (HMICA) confirms that four CD-Roms are missing.

"They were sent recorded delivery. Ministers and the Information Commissioner were notified immediately it was recognised that personal data had been lost.

"An investigation is under way so it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage."

Yesterday saw a new ban come into place on Whitehall staff removing unencrypted laptops containing personal data from their offices.

A massive operation began to ensure that civil servants comply with the new rule, laid down by Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell.

The move came amid further data loss embarrassment for ministers after the Government admitted the details of hundreds of thousands of people had been missing for more than a year.

It followed a cross-government review of data handling following HM Revenue and Customs' loss of 25 million child benefit claimants' details in the post.

Thousands of learner drivers have also had personal information lost by a DVLA contractor.

Defence Secretary Des Browne announced an inquiry into military security as he admitted a Navy laptop stolen in October 2006 contained most of the same data that was on a computer taken from an official's car in Birmingham this month.

The data included passport, National Insurance and drivers' licence numbers, family details and NHS numbers for about 153,000 people who applied to join the Armed Forces.

It also featured the bank details of around 3,700 - as well as some details on hundreds of thousands who simply expressed an interest.

But ministers were not told about the earlier theft in Manchester - or that of an Army laptop with data on 500 people stolen from a recruiting office in Edinburgh in 2005 - until recently.

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