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Concern over DEFRA information security

A Shooting Times’ writer, View from the West columnist Ergyd, by coincidence, sat next to employees from DEFRA and NE in the first-class carriage on the 16:45 from London’s Paddington station on 6 February.

He clearly overheard and witnessed the pair openly discussing, and reviewing in public, government business, including confidential notes on NE’s operations and details of the recent GB Poultry Register consultation, specifically concerning the use of shooters’ personal data.

The public consultation into “possible changes of use on personal data held on the GB Poultry Register” had closed just one day before the incident, on 5 February.

While this episode is clearly not on the same scale, it comes in the wake of the government’s recent apologies for the loss of military personnel’s bank account details and a disk containing 25m child benefit records in October last year.

Shooting Times confronted both DEFRA and NE to ascertain what action they intended to take as a result of this alleged security breach. Notably, in addition to these questions, Shooting Times also asked how the bodies could justify sending their employees first class at a time when Hilary Benn, minister of state for the environment, is discussing cost savings at DEFRA of £1bn over the next three years.

The magazine’s questioning on this point was ignored by DEFRA’s press office.

DEFRA and NE’s response to Ergyd’s article appears in 21 February issue of Shooting Times.

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