In the latest in a series of apparent personal data blunders, the government has been forced to admit that an Isle of Wight resident found a book containing the names and telephone numbers of hundreds of thousands of people ‘literally left on his doorstep’.
‘As soon as I found the book I knew something was wrong,’ said Michael Sexton who found the incriminating volume. ‘I started flicking through it looking for myself and my family, and it was all there. I just can’t see how something like this could have been allowed to happen. How could they know my number, my address, my postcode and everything? It’s frightening.’
Sexton fears that had the book been found by a less honest individual, they might have been able to commit identity fraud, although he admits that he isn’t sure exactly how. ‘When I realised that,’ he said, ‘I immediately resolved to contact my MP and discuss the security breach with him. Unfortunately I don’t have his phone number. Is there something where I can look them up?’
A representative of the Home Office told reporters that the information contained in the book does not constitute a leak. ‘This is the telephone directory,’ he said to the scorn of reporters. ‘The phone companies compile it and you can opt out at any stage. Everybody gets a copy. I… I don’t understand what you think has happened here.’
But Sexton is not convinced, and with the backing of the Daily Express has launched a campaign to force Gordon Brown to start an inquiry into how so much personal information came to be left on his doorstep. The campaigners have also announced that they intend to investigate the claim that a group of children recently visited his home asking for a donation of chocolate. ‘How did they know where I live? That’s what I want to know.’