Thousands of current and former Morrisons staff are seeking damages from the supermarket giant for the 2014 mass data leak – said to be the first class action of its kind in the UK – in a case which has opened this week in the High Court.
The legal challenge follows a security breach in 2014 when disgruntled senior IT auditor Andrew Skelton leaked the payroll data of nearly 100,000 employees – including their names, addresses, bank account details and salaries – putting it online and sending it to newspapers.
At his trial in July 2015, Bradford Crown Court heard how Skelton had been incensed when bosses accused him of using the HQ mailroom to send what they claimed were legal highs.
However, it transpired that he was simply receiving and posting goods he had bought and sold on eBay. But by then the damage was done. He was found guilty and was jailed for eight years.
Jonathan Barnes, counsel for 5,518 former and current Morrisons employees told Mr Justice Langstaff in London that the company had already been awarded £170,000 compensation against Skelton.
“The judge was sure that the employees were victims too, and it is those victims who have received no compensation for their distress or loss of control of the situation,” Barnes said.
The employees claim the leak exposed them to the risk of identity theft and potential financial loss and that Morrisons, which denies liability, is responsible for breaches of privacy, confidence and data protection laws.
The trial is due to last two weeks.
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