06/10/2018 07:00 BST

Department For Trade Reprimanded Over Leak Of Personal Data

"Liam Fox needs to spend less time jetting round the world and more time at home, keeping his house in order."

Trade minister Liam Fox's government department leaked personal information 

The Department for International Trade has been reprimanded by the data watchdog after leaking the personal information of people who wrote to MPs. 

Liam Fox’s department was supposed to conceal details such as names and addresses when it responded to a Freedom of Information request on the website What Do They Know. 

But instead of redacting information, the department published some letters in full via the website and subsequently faced a probe by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) earlier this month. 

The ICO has “provided guidance” and said a “small number of people” were affected by the slip-up. 

The government said it had “taken steps to ensure this does not happen again” but the pro-EU campaign Best For Britain campaign said the leak showed Fox, who is often abroad attempting to drum up post-Brexit trade deals, needed to “keep his house in order”. 

Lib Dem MP Tom Brake said: “If the Department for International Trade cannot keep people’s data private, they cannot be trusted with negotiating top trade deals either.

“Liam Fox needs to spend less time jetting round the world and more time at home, keeping his house in order.” 

An ICO spokeswoman said the department has tightened up its procedures.

She said: “Following an investigation, we have decided that no further action is needed on this occasion.

“The incident affected a small number of people and the data disclosed was limited, which is unlikely to pose a risk to these individuals.

“We have provided guidance to the Department for International Trade and they confirmed they have reviewed their redaction procedures.”

A Department for International Trade spokesman said: “DIT takes data protection very seriously and we have taken steps to ensure that this does not happen again. We are working with the Information Commissioner’s Office on this.”