Morrisons has a lost a High Court battle over a data breach that saw details of thousands of employees posted online.
Workers brought a claim against the company after employee Andrew Skelton stole the data, including salary and bank details, of nearly 100,000 staff.
“A former employee of Morrisons used his position to steal data about our colleagues and then place it on the internet and he’s been found guilty for his crimes,” the supermarket chain said in a statement.
“Morrisons has not been blamed by the courts for the way it protected colleagues’ data but they have found that we are responsible for the actions of that former employee, even though his criminal actions were targeted at the company and our colleagues.
“Morrisons worked to get the data taken down quickly, provide protection for those colleagues and reassure them that they would not be financially disadvantaged. In fact, we are not aware that anybody suffered any direct financial loss.
“We believe we should not be held responsible so that’s why we will now appeal to the Supreme Court.”
Nick McAleenan, a partner and data privacy law specialist at JMW Solicitors who represents the claimants, said: “The judgment is a wakeup call for business. People care about what happens to their personal information. They expect large corporations to take responsibility when things go wrong in their own business and cause harm to innocent victims. It’s important to remember that data protection is not solely about protecting information – it’s about protecting people”.
McAleenan added: “This case involves a significant data leak which affected more than 100,000 Morrisons employees – checkout staff, shelf-stackers, and factory workers; hard working people on whom Morrisons’ entire business relies. They were obliged to hand over sensitive personal information and had every right to expect it to remain confidential, but a copy was made and it was uploaded to the internet and they were put at risk of fraud, identity theft and a host of other problems. Unsurprisingly, this caused a huge amount of worry, stress and inconvenience.”