Bury St Edmunds man ‘absolutely livid’ over council’s error

Council's West Suffolk House building
Council's West Suffolk House building
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A Bury St Edmunds resident says he is ‘absolutely livid’ over a council’s breach of his privacy and confidentiality.

Ed Smith, of Westley Road, is one of hundreds of people to have signed up to receive updates on planning policy by email from St Edmundsbury Borough Council.

On Friday he received three - two were sent to ‘undisclosed recipients’ but one was openly distributed ‘for all and sundry to plunder’.

“I and all other recipients provide our e-contact on the understanding that it is treated in confidence,” said Mr Smith, adding that open distribution was ‘absolutely forbidden by the Data Protection Act’.

“I have no way of knowing if these other people are up-to-date with their anti-virus software - if one picks up a virus everyone will cop it,” he added.

A council spokeswoman said an email about a consultation was sent to 1,200 consultees but technical issues - a ‘bounce back message’ saying none had been delivered - meant more emails were sent, including one that was openly distributed.

She said: “We recalled the entire batch and resent, regrettably as open rather than blind distribution.

“This was immediately picked up, recalled and resent correctly. Recall will have been unsuccessful for some consultees and we apologise for any irritation.”

Adding that only two people had complained about the error, she said: “We have offered our apologies direct and look forward to receiving their representations on the consultation.”