Paul Gray, HMRC chairman has resigned after what appears to be a major security problem with Child Benefit records. The story started to break at lunchtime and at 3.30, Alistair Darling, Chancellor of the Exchequer made a statement to the House of Commons. In the statement, reported by the BBC, Darling said:
“Contrary to all HMRC standing proceedures two password protected discs containing a full copy of HMRC’s entire data in relation to the payment of child benefit was sent to the National Audit Office by HMRC’s internal postal system operated by the courier TNT.
“The package was not recorded or registered.”
Darling also said that:
The missing information contains details of 25m individuals, 7.25m families – including children’s names, addresses, dates of birth, NI numbers and where relevant bank and building society account details.
While the government has been quick to quell fears over identity theft and possible impact on personal bank accounts, public confidence has been shatterred.
The BBC opened up a comments section on its site and within 2 hours had received over 1,500 comments, as shown from the snapshot I took a few moments ago. Nearly all berated the government which it blames for presiding over a litany of IT failures.
Gray’s resignation was a shock. He had been widely regarded as ‘profession friendly’ so his departure leaves something of a vacuum.
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