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Ash, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10916
Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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Data protection question

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A former client teacher told me by email that they were leaving school at the end of the year and wouldn't be in a position to run the next school ski trip with our company. Please note that she did not indicate that this information was not common knowledge or to be kept secret however, since then, I have noticed that the school email address she sent it from does have an automatically generated and standard confidentiality statement, which appears at the bottom of the email chain - something I did not register at the time. By pure coincidence, a parent whose children were on the previous trip with said teacher, has been assigned to audit our safety management as a company/tour operator and, during a preliminary meeting, we inevitably got to discussing the school ski trip in question and whether it was going ahead. I explained that I had heard from the teacher that she was leaving, so didn't know what was going to happen. It occurred to me at the time that the teacher may not have made it public knowledge, so asked the parent (who now has a business relationship with us) to be discreet with the information, until the teacher/school notified parents in general. Yesterday, I took a call from the school, asking who was in charge of data protection. This is an unusual request and, as the school isn't currently even a client, I can only assume that the parent has passed on the information about the teacher leaving, and disclosed the source (me). I am now expecting a call from the Deputy Head at any moment, to make a complaint about this but am not sure how far she will take it. Have I broken data protection and does the school have grounds for legal action? If I have caused the school or teacher and inconvenience by talking about her leaving, then y first instinct will be to hold my hands up and apologise - though I realise this may not be the best thing to do, if legal action is looming. Thank you.

Alex Watts : Hello my name is XXXXX XXXXX I will help you with this. Please note that I am a working Solicitor and may be on and offline as I have to attend Court and meet with clients, even at weekends. As such you may not get an instant response when you reply, but rest assured I will be giving your question my immediate attention upon return You do not need to wait here as you will get an email when I reply.
Alex Watts : But the teacher did not say it was confidential nor that you were prevented from passing it on?

Not in her communication with me, no. However, as I say, there is a standard confidentiality message at the bottom of the email chain, which I only noticed after checking following the call yesterday from the school. We do have a data protection policy in place but this normally relates to information we hold on a booking.


Or at least that's what i thought. It looks as though email messages can also fall foul of DP though, from what I can find online.

Alex Watts : Yes indeed.
Alex Watts : Unless you were told not to disclose it then I would not worry.
Alex Watts : In any event it's not a breach of the data protection act. That generally applies to personal sensitive information.
Alex Watts : For example, address, bank details efc.
Alex Watts : This is just that someone is leaving. That is not really information likely to be covered under the Act
Alex Watts : It was not designed to stop people saying to others that someone was resigning.
Alex Watts : So no, you are not in trouble.
Alex Watts : There are no grounds for legal action
Alex Watts : Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?

Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX your view on it. For clarification - only that I can express regret and apologise when I (inevitably) receive the call?

Alex Watts : Yes. That is fine.
Alex Watts : If this answers your question could I invite you leave feedback on my service which I hope has been excellent today, if you need more information or help then please click reply.Please remember that I am always happy to help if you have future questions, even if I am in Court I can normally respond within a few hours. For future information, please start them with ‘For Alex W’.Please bookmark my profile if you wish for future help:

Thank you


Alex, I would leave feedback but don't appear to be able to. Do you have to finish anything at your end?

I have changed format, try now.


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I am just following up on this. Is there anything else I can help with? If so, please let me know.