Sussex bank worker's fine angers data privacy chief

A Sussex bank worker who hacked into the financial records of a sexual assault victim should have been jailed, the UK's Information Commissioner said.

Christopher Graham said it "beggared belief" that such serious breaches of privacy were not punishable by prison.

Mr Graham said "ordinary people" were suffering - not just public figures.

Former Barclays cashier Sarah Langridge, whose husband was on trial for the assault, was fined £800 for repeatedly looking up her details.

Langridge was fined by Brighton magistrates after the court heard she had viewed the account records of her husband's victim on eight separate dates over eight months while he was on trial, the commissioner said.

Effective deterrent

Langridge told police she had not made a record of the information she had viewed, or disclosed it to her husband.

Her husband, Simon, was jailed for 18 months in April 2010 for the assault on the woman, who had been walking home alone at night.

The term was increased to 28 months by the Court of Appeal.

Mr Graham, who has been putting his views to MPs on the Justice Committee, called for custodial sentences to be available as a more effective deterrent to the unlawful trade in, and access to, personal information.

He said: "It beggars belief that - in an age where our personal information is being stored and accessed by more organisations than ever - the penalties for seriously abusing the system still do not include the possibility of a prison sentence, even in the most serious cases.

"The details of this case are truly shocking. The victim had a harrowing enough experience at the hands of her attacker; the revelation that her attacker's wife was then rooting through all her personal details, for whatever purpose, would have caused even further distress."

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