Tyne & Wear

Newcastle mother 'felt sick inside' at adoption data leak

Adoptive parent from Newcastle
Image caption The adopted parent said she had not been reassured by Newcastle City Council

A mother who has adopted two children "felt sick inside" when she discovered her details and those of thousands of others had been leaked.

Newcastle City Council said information about 2,743 children and their adoptive parents was mistakenly added to a party invitation sent to 77 people in June.

The woman said she had to call 23 times before she could speak to someone at the council about the data breach.

The council has apologised, adding the staff member involved had resigned.

The details, dating back to 2004, included names, addresses and birthdates of the children and their adoptive parents. It was mistakenly attached as a spreadsheet to an invitation to a summer party being organised by the authority.

The woman, who is not being identified, said: "When I found out what information had been sent out I felt sick inside.

"We have had two letters from the council reassuring us. But I don't feel reassured.

"When I got the first letter it asked me to ring a number, so I did. Fifteen times I rang throughout the day and couldn't speak to anyone.

"So the next morning I started ringing again and I got to the eighth time and there was still no-one answering."

She said she was fearful the information could find its way on to social media.

Image caption The council said it had set up a special helpline for those involved

The woman added: "The council can't guarantee that everyone who got the email has deleted it or that it won't get out further.

"These children were placed in care for their safety. Some have had horrendous things happen to them and you don't want the safety of your children put at risk.

"There are birth parents out there that try to get in touch with their children. It just worries me that one day they could end up on the doorstep."

A spokesman for Newcastle City Council said: "The member of staff involved has resigned from the council.

"The member of staff concerned was authorised to use the data.

"However, in accidentally attaching the spreadsheet they contravened the council's standard practice and guidance provided to members of staff."

The Information Commissioner's Office is investigating and has the power to levy a fine of up to £500,000.

The council has set up a dedicated helpline for those involved on 0191 211 5562.

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