Man seeks damages after address given to detective hired for AIB
Claim Department of Social Protection official breached privacy and data protection rights
In High Court proceedings, Daniel Lannon claims his personal data, including his Drogheda address, was accessed by a member of the department’s staff on August 22nd, 2014, and provided to a private investigator.
A man is seeking damages over his address having been given by an official at the Department of Social Protection to a private detective hired by solicitors acting for AIB bank.
In High Court proceedings, Daniel Lannon (49) has claimed damages, including aggravated damages against the Minister for Social Protection over alleged breach of his privacy and data protection rights in 2014.
Represented by Jim O’Callaghan SC, with Darren Lehane, Mr Lannon claims his personal data, including his address at Colpe View, Deepforde, Dublin Road, Drogheda, was accessed by a member of the department’s staff on August 22nd, 2014, and provided to a private investigator.
The investigator had been hired by a solicitor’s firm acting on behalf of AIB, the court heard.
Mr Lannon claims the information was used so AIB could serve legal proceedings on him at his Drogheda address.
Mr O’Callaghan said Mr Lannon did not provide the bank with the Drogheda address and had instead used the address of a property he owned at Burnell Square, Malahide Road, Dublin, which property was mortgaged to AIB, for correspondence with AIB.
Mr Lannon, who had worked in the construction industry, fell into arrears with the bank after works started to dry up from 2007 onwards.
After the bank wrote to him at the Drogheda address, Mr Lannon made a complaint to the Data Protection Commissioner (DPC).
That resulted in the DPC prosecuting the private investigator, Michael Ryan, and the latter’s company, Glen Collection Investments Limited.
In October 2016, those parties pleaded guilty to certain data breaches and were fined €7,500 by the district court.
In his High Court case, Mr Lannon, who now operates a mediation business, seeks declarations that his constitutional rights were breached and also claims the department breached its duty of care in regards to his personal data.
He told Mr Justice Tony O’Connor on Tuesday he had never received an apology from the department for the data breach.
Under cross-examination by Conor Power SC, for the department, Mr Lannon accepted he had a legal obligation under the terms of his mortgage to inform AIB of his change of address when he moved to Drogheda but had failed to do so.
He said he had always tried to engage and deal with the bank.
Rented it out
While he used the Dublin apartment as his address, he did not live there and had rented it out, he said.
AIB previously got an order for possession of that property, which “lies idle”, he said.
In its defence, the department accepts one of its former staff members, Caitríona Bracken, had accessed Mr Lannon’s private data and provided it to Mr Ryan, Ms Bracken’s brother-in-law.
The department says it was not liable for negligent actions of Ms Bracken and any injury caused to Mr Lannon was caused by Ms Bracken’s actions.
Arising out of Mr Lannon’s complaints, Ms Bracken was dismissed from her employment at the department in 2017, Mr Power told the court.
The Department also argues the proceedings amount to an abuse of process as Mr Lannon had previously brought but discontinued similar action against the department.
Ms Bracken, of Kilkerrin, Ballinasloe, Co Galway, had been added to the proceedings by the department as a third party.
However, during Tuesday’s hearing, Mr Power said the department was no longer seeking any relief against Ms Bracken and she and her lawyers could be let out of the case.
In her defence, Ms Bracken had pleaded the release of data was “commonplace” and it was an accepted work practice of the department’s management and staff to release information to gardaí, solicitors and private investigators upon request.
The hearing continues on Wednesday.