The Interim Victims' Commissioner said he will consider his "situation" if heis found to be culpable for a major data breach which led to hundreds of victims of historical institutional abuse having their identities exposed.

The names and emails of 250 survivors were revealed in a newsletter circulated by the Historical Institutional Abuse Interim Advocate's Office onFriday.

It has also emerged that dozens of victims are taking civil action followingthe damaging leak which could lead to hundreds of thousands of pounds paid out in compensation.

The matter has been referred to the Information Commissioner's Office.<Brendan McAllister, the Interim Victims' Commissioner, has faced calls toresign over the matter.

Mr McAllister issued a public apology saying he is "fully aware" of theimpact it has had.

He told BBC's Good Morning Ulster: "We are conscious that people are carrying wounds, and some of those wounds involve a great difficulty in having trust in others, so you can imagine how my staff and I feel that we have been entrusted to do a job for them, including the whole area of communicating with them.

"It's a terrible thing to be in a position to have to tell people that theirtrust has been compromised. I have a small team of civil servants, they'reextremely hard working and are very stressed over what happened.

"There are procedures in place to deal with this kind of situation - I thinkit's very important that procedures are followed. We are either talking abouthuman error or technical malfunction - it is not clear to us yet which hashappened."

He also rejected claims that his office did not make themselves available tovictims and survivors over the weekend.

He acknowledged that some victims' groups have been calling for hisresignation, while others have contacted him to offer their support.

"We are at a critical stage, there is important work to be done in the weeksahead, of course I have had to consider my situation and will continue to doso," he added.

"I will await the outcome of the investigation and then we will take stock ofthe situation.

"If at the end of that I am found to be in any way culpable then I willconsider my situation."

KRW Law, which is representing some of the survivors, said they have beeninstructed to issue court proceedings.

Solicitor Owen Beattie said: "It's crucial that the damage is limited bymaking sure the contents of the leaked email are not disseminated any further. I would caution any recipients to make sure they don't forward on elsewhere

"Everyone has a responsibility to make sure there's no further transmission of the leaked material.

"Secondly, I can confirm we have issued the first tranche of pre-actionletters of claim to the Interim Advocates office on foot of our legal advice toeach survivor."

Marty Adams, for campaign group Survivors Together, said he rejects calls for Mr McAllister to resign.

"Brendan has done an excellent job and I hope this breach can be fixed and he can continue to represent a vast majority of victims groups who want him to stay," Marty added.