The lawyer representing over 5,000 Morrisons staff affected by the retailer’s 2104 data breach has hit out at the company on the eve of its appeal hearing in the High Court, claiming that it is attempting to avoid its legal responsibility.
The retailer is set to begin its appeal against last December’s ruling which found it legally responsible for a data breach which saw 100,000 staff members bank account details, dates of birth, salary information, national insurance numbers, addresses and phone numbers leaked to the internet.
The 2014 breach was caused by disgruntled senior internal auditor Andrew Skelton, who uploaded the staff members details to data sharing websites and sent them to the press. Skelton received an eight-year prison sentence and although the court ruled that Morrisons was not “directly liable” it was found to be “vicariously liable” for the actions of its employee.
Morrisons is seeking to reverse the ruling, denying all legal responsibility and denying claimants of any compensation.
Some 5,518 claimants are seeking recompense for the significant stress they suffered due to being exposed to the risk of identity fraud and financial loss.
JMW Solicitors data privacy law specialist Nick McAleenan said: “This is a classic David and Goliath case – the victims here are shelf stackers, checkout staff and factory workers; just ordinary people doing their jobs.
“They were obligated to hand over sensitive financial and personal information to Morrisons – including national insurance numbers, dates of birth and bank account details – and had every right to expect that information to be kept confidential.”
“Instead of recognising the impact on its employees, of what was a very serious data breach, Morrisons now seeks to avoid legal responsibility and protect its £374m annual profits – and despite the receipt of its own compensation to the tune of £170,000.”
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