Priti Patel is being sued for alleged misuse of ‘extremely vulnerable’ woman’s personal data
PUBLISHED: 16:48 30 July 2020 | UPDATED: 16:48 30 July 2020
PA Wire/PA Images
A British sex trafficking victim is looking to sue home secretary Priti Patel on the grounds she misused her personal data during legal proceedings.
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The claimant, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is accusing the Home Office of accessing her personal information, including notes on her most intimate thoughts, without permission.
The victim’s lawyer, Ahmed Aydeed, argued that department officials had asked the Salvation Army, which was managing a victims database for the Home Office, to hand over documents relating to her.
The department says it has a legal right to any information collected by charities they hire as contractors.
Notes made by workers about their clients are stored on a database which is operated by the charity, and it is the access to that trove of information which is the focus of the legal challenge.
Aydeed claims the Salvation Army gave department officials the victim’s personal details while she detained in hospital under the Mental Health Act.
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The woman, who was subject to repeated instances of druggings, sexual abuse and assault and was classified as a victim of modern-day slavery, was detained in hospital under the act and following her release was left nowhere to go.
Aydeed sued the department for malpractice and it was not until the court proceedings began and when Home Office officials started presenting irrelevant information about his client that he began suspecting the worst.
Although the Home Office cannot access the database directly, it does own all its contents and can request suppliers provide it with information.
The victim’s legal team argue that the Home Office had unlawfully accessed legally privileged communication between the woman and her lawyers, breaching her human rights and data protection regulations and is calling for the information to be destroyed.
Aydeed said that “the home secretary has shown a complete disregard for survivors’ right to privacy and right to receive confidential legal advice.”
The Home Office denied the claims and said that support workers who help victims of trafficking are “Home Office agents”.
The Salvation Army says it cannot comment on ongoing legal proceedings.
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