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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 49789
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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. I recently did a subject access request and found information

Customer Question

Hello. I recently did a subject access request and found information that was being hel about me and my son without my consent, plus allegations which were both untrue and never discussed or disclosed with me. Is this lawful?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 3 years ago.
Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is ***** ***** it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. Who was holding that data?

JACUSTOMER-tivqz31o- : My son's school. My son is 7
Ben Jones :

what is the nature of the data you mention exactly?

JACUSTOMER-tivqz31o- : The teacher in question had been questioning my child. She had written personal information about him regarding what time he went to bed, what he had for breakfast, where he lived, what animals he had, how many times he had moved home, what sleepwear he slep in etc
Ben Jones :

what was the purpose of gathering such information?

JACUSTOMER-tivqz31o- : I do not know. They were typed notes in the file. I was never told about them and it is not clear in the file why. They were written shortly after I asked to see the teacher because I was concerned about the fact that my son was not reading enough at school and needed forthright attention. She took offence at this.
JACUSTOMER-tivqz31o- : Are you still there? I will have to go shortly to work
Ben Jones :

yes I am but I will have to type up my response as it is not just a few words obviously...

Ben Jones :

So if you want you can come back to check here later

JACUSTOMER-tivqz31o- : I will assume you have gone and are unable to answer my question?
Ben Jones :

? of course not, as mentioned above I need to get my response ready first

Ben Jones :

A school is a data controller for data protection purposes. When data is obtained from data subjects the data controller must ensure, so far as is practicable, that the data subjects have, or are provided with, or have readily available to them, the following information, referred to as the ‘fair processing information’:

  • Details of the data that they hold on them

  • The purposes for which they hold the data

  • Any third parties to whom the information may be passed.

In addition, the Data Protection Principles state that data must be:

  • fairly and lawfully processed

  • processed for limited purposes

  • adequate, relevant and not excessive

  • accurate

  • kept no longer than necessary

  • processed in accordance with data subject’s rights

  • secure

So the school should have informed you in some way about the data they hold on your child, whether it is in a school policy which is accessible to you or direct notification so you can ask them where this was notified.

The data should also be accurate so if you have found factual inaccuracies you are able to ask them to correct it or remove it.

In doing this you can follow any of the school’s complaints procedures, taking it as far as necessary. The issue is that unless you have suffered any losses as a result, which I do not see being the case, you cannot get any compensation for any breaches of data protection so your options will be limited to raising a complaint and getting the data removed or amended.

JACUSTOMER-tivqz31o- : The teacher made my life so unbearable that I was forced to withdraw my son from the school. I also believe that she did not educate my son to the standard required because of her feelings. Whilst I may not be able to get compensation, if the school has not followed the above, and it is clear they haven.t, what legal action can be taken against the school for not adhering to the data protection act?
Ben Jones :

you can report them to the Information Commissioner's Office who can fie them if they believe the breach is serious enough and warrants it. But as you have not suffered losses yourself you cannot personally sue the school for that breach

JACUSTOMER-tivqz31o- : Is not having to leave the school a personal loss? What about distress? I have reason to believe the teacher is now talking to clients of mine outside of the school? Can I sue here individually for libel?
Ben Jones :

it is not a loss because you can enrol him in a different school - we are talking about financial losses alone. If the victim has only suffered distress and no financial damages, compensation is not available unless the breach related to the “special purposes” which means it was related to the processing of artistic, literary or journalistic information. Any other breaches will not qualify.

Ben Jones :

Similarly with libel you need to prove losses and such claims will cot you upwards of £20,000 just to bring in through the courts

JACUSTOMER-tivqz31o- : Okay. I tried to enter my personal email address for the report but I must have already had ana count. Please can you send it to *****@******.***.
Ben Jones :

We cannot email customers directly but you have a few options:
a) If you see a 'share' button and hover over it you can see the option to print.
b) You could copy and paste this conversation into a Word document or equivalent. You can then save and/or print it and refer to it in the future as necessary.
c) This conversation will be stored in your account on this site so you may return to view it or do any of the above at any time

Ben Jones :

do let me know if you need any more help?

Ben Jones :

Could you please let me know if this has answered your original question or if you need me to clarify anything else in relation to this? It is important for us to know either way so we can track customer satisfaction or identify whether I need to help you further? Thanks