Abuse survivors £25k compensation after HIA Interim Advocate's Office data breach

(Now former) Victims Commissioner and Forum co-chairman Brendan McAllister at the first meeting of the Victims and Survivors Forum in Belfast. (2009)
The HIA Interim Advocate's Office mistakenly revealed the names of around 250 survivors of abuse in an email. The then interim advocate Brendan McAllister apologised.

Survivors of historical institutional abuse in Northern Ireland will receive a total of £25,000 in settlements after their personal details were leaked.

Seven individuals settled the legal action against the very body set up to champion their cause.

It follows previous resolutions for nearly 40 other victims exposed in the data breach who have already secured combined pay-outs in excess of £100,000.

In May 2020 a newsletter circulated in an email by the HIA Interim Advocate's Office mistakenly revealed the names of around 250 survivors of abuse.

At the time Interim Advocate Brendan McAllister issued an apology for the disclosure of their details.

He said measures were immediately taken to recall the email, with the incident also reported to the Information Commissioner.

Pre-action correspondence had been issued by Belfast-based legal firm KRW Law on behalf of scores of those impacted by the breach.

Claims were made for misuse of private information, and violations of both data protection and human rights.

But extensive discussions led to the potential lawsuits being resolved without having to issue proceedings at the High Court.

Because the Interim Advocate's Office is funded by Stormont, the terms had to be approved at ministerial level.

In August last year it was announced that 38 people impacted by the leak were to receive a combined “six-figure” sum.

A solicitor representing seven further victims disclosed today that they have also now agreed pay-outs which are understood to reach £25,000 in total.

Owen Beattie of KRW Law said: “We can confirm that a further five figure settlement has been secured. This latest cohort of settlements is welcome closure for our clients.”