Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Dawn Makin’s case is absolutely tragic for the loss of the life of a young child, as well as the devastating subsequent impact on her life


It also puts the spotlight on serious data protection breaches in the personal injury sector.

A few weeks ago the tragic case of Dawn Makin hit the headlines. The former nurse killed  her four-year-old daughter, Chloe in February 2011 before seeking to take her own life. Dawn Makin herself is now wheelchair bound following the suicide attempt. She is now serving a 12-year sentence following conviction for the killing.

Cases in which a parent kills a child are always awful. How, we wonder, is it possible that any parent would ever do such a thing? Our hearts go out to the poor, innocent child.

The data protection breach background pales into insignificance by comparison. Dawn Makin was sacked for illegally accessing a computer at Moorgate Primary walk-in centre in Bury. Why did she do this? To pass on the confidential, medically sensitive and personal details of 29 road accident victims to her boyfriend Martin Campbell, who worked for a personal injury claims company and who has since pleaded guilty to data protection offences.  He and Dawn Makin split up but she, too, was due in court to on data protection charges after a number of patients quite properly complained to NHS Bury in May 2010. Consequently Dawn Makin lost her job.

Judge Anthony Russell, passing sentence, stated: “The facts of this case are appalling. The victim was a four-year-old child, someone who trusted you. This was a sustained attack. Chloe must have undergone significant and considerable physical and emotional suffering. Finally, the physical injuries you have caused to yourself which are permanent and the knowledge you have killed your only child will be with you for the rest of your life.”

We should also condemn, in the strongest fashion possible, the very existence of the culture that facilitated the actions of Martin Campbell.

If personal data protection rights were properly respected, and the law observed, there would have been no mileage in Martin Campbell seeking to persuade his partner to reveal confidential medical information. As it is, the regrettable truth is that, as you read this, someone, somewhere will be illicitly selling on personal data.

We must hope that cases such as Dawn Makin’s mark the absolute limit of the tragedy that can indirectly  flow from data protection breaches, and further hope it acts as a catalyst to an impetus to prevent continued and future breaches.