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Home Office loses appeal to take back compensation from asylum-seekers whose data it leaked

THE HOME OFFICE’s attempt to claw back compensation awarded to two asylum-seekers whose personal data the department had accidentally published online was thrown out by the Court of Appeal today.

A monumental cock-up meant the names, dates of birth, immigration status and local asylum office of 1,598 “lead applicants for asylum or leave to remain” were available on the Home Office website for 13 days in October 2013.

Under Theresa May’s leadership, the Home Office published “family returns process” data online.

The statistics contained a link to a spreadsheet holding the raw data, which was viewed 27 times and was uploaded to a US-based document-sharing website.

The High Court granted compensation to six claimants — three individual women and a family of three — who were affected.

But the Home Office appealed, arguing that the wife and daughter of a man named in the spreadsheet should not have been given compensation.

A man referred to as TLT arrived in Britain from Iran in 2010 with his wife TLU, daughter TLV and his son, who claimed asylum separately and was eventually deported in 2014.

He and his wife later “heard from relatives in Iran that [the son] had been detained and tortured.”

They also heard that the “Iranian authorities claim to have documents that [TLU had] sought asylum” in Britain and that the family “feared genuinely for their own safety if returned to Iran like their son.”

The leak “led the family to relocate from the area in which they had lived for some four years.”

Lord Justice Gross ruled that, even though TLU and TLV details were not published, they “could readily be identified by third parties.”

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