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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71140
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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I recently wrote to my wife's ex- employer stating i had concerns

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I recently wrote to my wife's ex- employer stating i had concerns that she was bullied at work. I marked the letter "In Confidence / Private and confidential" as she also suffers from depression and anxiety since working here and i didn't want her to be worried about me raising the matter. The employer wrote her a very robust letter including copies of my letters. Does their action in any way constitute a breach of my confidence or a breach of data protection
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
Why did you write to him?
It is a matter for her?
I am not criticising your actions but just wondering why you placed yourself at risk?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.


You are correct - it should be a matter for my wife, however she was unwilling at the time (not in a mentally good place) to take the matter further. I also subsequently became aware of two other ex-employees who had been bullied by the same Director and minor shareholder of the firm (one in remission from breast cancer)

In hindsight i should have just walked away, however no employee should be shouted at for making someone a coffee when they were going out - or balled at in front of other members of staff and customers.

By copying my correspondence back it has obviously left my relationship with my wife in a worse place


Ok. Never, in any circumstances, get involved in your wife's disputes. They are not your problem. You can be a supportive partner without placing yourself at risk.
I don't know why men always feel an obligation to sort out their partner's problems for them as women never seem to do for men. I have lost count of the number of men who have ended up in the dock for no other reason than that they were sorting out the issues of their partners.
On your main point, I'm afraid this isn't a DPA issue. You wrote to him. He is entitled to reveal the letter to anybody he likes. Private and confidential markings have no legal status per se. They just mean that nobody but the addressed person should read them. They do not bind that person to confidentiality.
In fairness, he was always likely to respond with some form of denial as failing to do so would have been incriminating.
I'm very sorry but I have to give you truthful information.
Can I clarify anything for you?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.


Thanks for your response - its no problem i'd prefer to know the facts.

Your point about ending up in the dock is duly noted.

One final question if i may? concerning DPA - should an organisation which is an estate agents with circa 10-15 staff that work in both Commercial and residential and process personal data including tenancy agreements, credit references and mortgage applications/ referrals be registered with the ICO or would their size make them exempt

Kind regards

Well, it is capable of being a data controller within the meaning of the legislation but it doesnt apply here.
On the information you have provided it probably should be registered.
But you just leave that to her. Now that I have mentioned it you will probably notice that most disputes involving men are incited at some level by women. I have never even once seen a pub fight between men that wasn't over a woman in one form or another. You can argue that men shouldn't rise to the incitement but I do also think women shouldn't incite.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

thanks my understanding is that any information stored electronically or in paper/ hand written note form that can act as a key i.e. two pieces of data that can be linked to form personal data are covered under the act - i.e. my letter, e-mails to / from my wife to either my home or work e-mail, reference to me as her next of kin on an employment application etc etc

For the record (and i think you've labored this point) my wife didn't incite me, however she did obviously have to explain why she no longer had a job. I haven't written anything libelous or threatening to her employer - just a helpfully worded letter about what may constitute work place bullying and harassment as opposed to "forthright management" - being shouted at for making coffee probably isnt a good example of performance management according the the CIPD

Just a personal observation but you probably shouldn't judge everyone by your own ability to defend yourself, especially when the other person is virtually suicidal given the treatment they've received.

Finally i've seen plenty of pub fights between two men and/or two women that didn't involve a member of the opposite sex inciting them

thanks for your answers

No, I understand. I don't think you will have any problems arising from writing one complaint effectively. It isn't a malicious communication. Just don't correspond again as that would potentially bring it within harassment and it becomes very difficult to argue that you were acting reasonably when you are involved in the battles of another person. On your point about data, anything can be data that is personal information. An estate would potential handling suitable information.
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