Haringey data protection officer reveals hundreds of emails in BCC blunder

There can’t be many of us who haven’t felt the sweaty-palmed moment when you accidentally send an email to the wrong person or copy in someone you really didn’t want to.

But it’s a bit worse if you copy in a full A-Z list of contacts, including personal email addresses, and you’re a council officer.

And, let’s be honest, it is a lot worse if – on attempting to apologise for the mistake – you do exactly the same thing again. Especially if you are the council’s data protection officer.

Exactly this happened at Haringey Council when democratic services manager Clifford Hart emailed residents on September 7 to let them know about the next Muswell Hill, Alexandra, Fortis Green and Highgate area forum.

Instead of entering the addresses in the blind carbon copy (Bcc) field, which means people receiving the email don’t see details of other recipients, he simply sent the email to everyone on the mailing list.

The error meant everyone could see the email addresses of everyone else.

Dr Jeremy Klein, of Cranley Gardens, Muswell Hill – one of the unfortunate people on the list – graciously told Heathman that “mistakes happen”.

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But he was less forgiving when the snappily-titled feedback and information governance manager, Anita Hunt, emailed an apology to residents on September 10 and repeated exactly the same mistake.

Her email, which also failed to use the Bcc field, was “very sorry” that personal email addresses, which would be regarded as personal information, had been shared. She tried to reassure residents that it was an “isolated incident”.

Clearly not, and Ms Hunt had to admit in yet another email a day later that she had made “exactly the same mistake”.

She acknowledged that “given the context, this is a serious error on my part”.

The “terribly embarrassed” manager said the council was looking at ways to build in checks before emails are sent to multiple addresses.

A council spokesman said: “This was a genuine mistake and we have apologised to all residents affected.”