An unnamed woman has today been awarded £75,000 in damages from Greater Manchester Police after it revealed details of her treatment by a former boyfriend without her consent.
She had agreed to GMP referring to her experience in a training session provided that she remained anonymous. Instead GMP revealed her true identity and medical history to a wider audience.
The case is interesting because of the size of the payment made. This is thought to be one of the biggest awards for this type of case by a British Force.
If your private details are revealed without your consent by a public body such as Social Services or the Police you have a potential claim on various fronts. There is a straightforward claim in Negligence. You may have a claim under the Data Protection Act. You may well have a claim under the Human Rights Act. The most interesting claim however is the claim for Misuse of Private Information which seems to be the basis of the award by Greater Manchester Police.
These types of cases traditionally have involved celebrities such as the Gulati v MGN Ltd case which revolved around phone hacking.
This payment by GMP would now seem to show that you do not have to be a celebrity to obtain significant damages if your private information is misused.
I have various similar cases ongoing primarily involving Social Services Departments. Typical examples are where a neighbour provides a “tip off” about a difficult family anonymously and then their details are then revealed to the family and they suffer harassment.
Another common case involves details of a child’s adoptive parents being given to the birth parents by mistake who then go on to harass the adoptive family sometimes even resulting in them having to relocate.
In addition to civil damages awards very significant penalties can also now be imposed on public bodies and companies who misuse private individual’s information.
This is a rapidly growing area of law and if you have been affected in any way please do not hesitate to contact either myself or one of the specialist team of lawyers who deal with this type of claim at Farleys solicitors. Please call 0845 287 0939 or complete an online enquiry form.