Anger over blunder as nationwide child abuse HQ left open all night

By Douglas Walker
Scottish Sun
November 29, 2016

Andy Lavery claimed documents had been getting sent to the wrong people ‘for a long period of time’

John Swinney was slammed last week for refusing to extend the remit of the inquiry

The probe is being led by Supreme Court judge Lady Smith

Susan O’Brien claims she was forced out

Massive probe is being investigated over series of security gaffes that also saw victim's private letter detailing ordeal sent to wrong address

THE national child abuse probe HQ was left open overnight in a security blunder.

Staff discovered an unlocked door at the Edinburgh site where highly sensitive information on victims is kept.

Survivors’ spokesman Andi Lavery branded it “shambolic”.

The gaffe emerged as it was revealed the massive nationwide child abuse is being investigated over a series of security blunders.

Bosses reported themselves to the Information Commissioner’s Officer following data protection breaches that survivors claim have been common for “a long time”.

One saw a victim’s private letter detailing their ordeal sent to the wrong address.

The intended recipient was so outraged they went to their local MSP.

But the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry team are said to have brushed off the complaint.

In another lapse, a former panel member was accidentally emailed confidential information after leaving.

A further message was sent to the wrong email account while the group’s Edinburgh HQ housing hundreds of sensitive files was left unlocked overnight.

Last night, Andi Lavery, an abuse victim and spokesman for the White Flowers Alba survivors group, said: “They’ve been sending documents to the wrong people for a long period of time.

“I have an email which has details of ‘Victim A’ which were then sent erroneously to a ‘Victim B’.

“The inquiry is a joke, it’s not fit for purpose.

“They don’t have a clue what they are doing.

“We are having nothing to do with it for that reason.”

The sprawling probe focuses on kids targeted in residential care, foster families and boarding schools over seven decades and is expected to cost £100million.

It has been plagued with criticism and allegations of Holyrood interference since it launched in October 2015.

Staff discovered its office door had been left unlocked after arriving for work the next morning.

A source said: “The alarm was set, but one of the actual doors to the office was not locked.

“So someone could physically get into where information was kept.

“A memo was sent to everyone in the inquiry warning them not to make the same mistake. There may have been other security measures in place. But the fact they sent out a memo shows it was clearly a big concern.”

The slip-ups were recorded in the SCAI’s Data Protection Log, which then goes to the ICO. The watchdog said yesterday: “We are aware of potential incidents involving the inquiry.”

An SCAI spokesman insisted: “At no point has the office been left unsecured. Rigorous security measures have always been in place. We took steps to remedy matters and reiterated to all staff the strict procedures to ensure data is always handled correctly.”

The SCAI has already cost £2.5million of public money with no evidence heard yet.

Last week, Deputy First Minister John Swinney was slammed for refusing to extend the remit of the inquiry — led by Supreme Court judge Lady Smith — to include incidents at youth groups and day schools.

This means organisations like the Scouts and Catholic Church avoid scrutiny.

Heads quit row

THE security scandal is the latest controversy to plague the inquiry.

Former head Susan O’Brien quit in June and is now suing the Government, claiming she was forced out.
Fellow panel member Michael Lamb also stood down blaming interference from Holyrood ministers.


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