Northern Ireland news

Police Federation gets assurances officers' details in honours list data breach 'not compromised'

Chief Superintendent Andrew Freeburn was awarded an MBE
Connla Young

ALMOST 100 people from Northern Ireland were included in the new year’s honours list which is now the subject of an alleged data breach investigation.

There have been calls for an inquiry after details relating to the vast majority of the 1,097 recipients across the UK could be viewed online from 11pm on Friday, shortly after news of their honours went public.

Among the recipients were politicians and people with links to the police and military.

The addresses of celebrities including Sir Elton John and Grease star Olivia Newton-John were also made public.

The details were removed around an hour after the disclosure.

Last night a spokesman for the Police Federation Northern Ireland said it had been given assurances that the personal details, including addresses, of PSNI officers included on the list were not “compromised”.

Three PSNI officers were nominated for the Queen’s Police Medal while Chief Superintendent Andrew Freeburn received an MBE.

Two other people with links to policing were also awarded a BEM.

A spokesman for the Police Federation last night said: “We have received assurances from the PSNI that as far as they are aware, no personal details have been compromised.

“In the current climate of a ’severe’ terrorist threat in Northern Ireland, any data breach would be of the gravest concern.”

The spokesman added that the PSNI “will keep us informed as it seeks absolute certainty around the security details of our members”.

In a statement the PSNI said it was aware of reports regarding the publication of addresses belonging to new year’s honours recipients online.

"We are working closely with the relevant government departments to determine what action, if any, needs to be taken.”

People linked to the Ministry of Defence, Prison Service and civil service in Northern Ireland also received honours.

It is not known if their home addresses were made public.

Former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith, who was knighted in the latest honours list, described the alleged data breach as a "complete disaster".

There have also been calls for an inquiry into the leak, which is being investigated by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO).

Details relating to the majority of the 1,097 recipients were available to view online from around 11pm on Friday.

The details were removed around an hour after the disclosure.

The Cabinet Office apologised and said it was contacting those affected.

Lord Kerslake, who was head of the civil service between 2012 and 2014, said an "urgent investigation" was needed.

"It is a serious and indeed extraordinary breach because this is a well-established process that has gone on in pretty much the same way for years, so I think an urgent investigation is certainly needed,” he told the BBC.

"Of course, it's likely to be human error, as has been suggested, but we need to know how well staff were trained about the importance of maintaining security.

“Were they briefed on the potential consequences if this information was released?"

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