The British Heart Foundation has launched a scathing attack on the privacy regulator’s handling of last year’s data law breaches at the charity, claiming the Information Commissioner’s Office only issued a fine to suck up to politicians and the media.
Commissioner Elizabeth Denham was first accused of pandering to the Daily Mail in February this year, by charity marketing specialist Stephen Pidgeon, but this is believed to be the first time a charity has publicly aired their grievences about the issue.
Speaking at a panel debate on the regulation of charities in central London. BHF head of legal services Richard Macmillan layed into with the way the ICO handled the case, which saw the BHF fined £18,000 for carrying out wealth screening without the proper consent. The fine was later reduced to £14,400 for early payment.
During the debate, Macmillan claimed that the regulator had always stated that fines would be a last resort. He added: “We actively approached the ICO and said help us improve, but they wouldn’t engage. It went straight to the fines. I think that was partly party political pressure and also media pressure.”
He said the fundraising crisis did feel political, “particularly how the Daily Mail and other tabloids reported on it”.
At the time, the ICO was accused of leaking the adjudication to the Daily Mail, as it appeared in the paper 48 hours before its official release. The ICO denied any wrongdoing.
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