NI: Interim advocate to ‘consider position’ if found culpable for data breach

Interim advocate to ‘consider position’ if found culpable for data breach

Brendan McAllister
Brendan McAllister

The interim advocate for victims of historical institutional abuse has said he will “consider his position” if he is found to be culpable for a recent data breach.

The names and email addresses of 250 victims were inadvertently circulated with an email newsletter from Brendan McAllister’s office last week.

Solicitor Claire McKeegan of Phoenix Law, who represents some victims, is among a number of people who have called on Mr McAllister to resign.

First Minister Arlene Foster yesterday told MLAs that an investigation had been launched by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and a separate fact-finding investigation had been begun by the Department of Finance.

Mrs Foster said: “We have received the terms of reference for [the Department of Finance investigation], and we hope very much that that will give us the facts in a very fast way and, I hope, within just a number of days.

“As you have heard from the interim advocate, he has said that, if he is found to be culpable, of course he will consider his position. I think that the Member will agree with me that it is right that we do go through due process in all these matters and that we do get independent fact-finding brought to the office.”

Pressed on the progress of appointing a permanent commissioner, Mrs Foster said a selection panel had been appointed and a competition “will be advertised by the end of next week”.

“It is something that we want to see happen in fast time, but, of course, we have to again make sure that the processes can stand up,” she said. “Believe you me, there will be no delay in appointing the new commissioner.”

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