INM facing ‘exceptional’ cost from alleged data breach, chief tells staff

Michael Doorly unable to guarantee personal staff data has not been compromised

INM chief executive Michael Doorly sought in a meeting with staff to distance the suspected data interrogation from current executives. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

INM chief executive Michael Doorly sought in a meeting with staff to distance the suspected data interrogation from current executives. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

The cost of the fallout from the suspected data breach at Independent News & Media (INM) will be “exceptional”, the company’s chief executive, Michael Doorly, told staff at an internal meeting.

In an attempt to ease employees’ concerns about the security of their personal data, Mr Doorly said that he doubted whether personal information was on IT back-up tapes accessed in October 2014 and “interrogated” by at least six external companies but that he could not say for certain.

Sources said Mr Doorly sought to distance the suspected data interrogation – allegedly directed by former chairman Leslie Buckley and paid for by an Isle of Man firm beneficially owned by INM’s largest shareholder, Denis O’Brien – from current executives, stressing to staff that a new team was now in charge.

Mr Buckley has said he would “robustly defend my position against each and every allegation”. Mr O’Brien has yet to comment publicly about the controversy.

Whistleblower disclosure

The alleged breach was disclosed by former INM chief executive Robert Pitt along with other matters in a whistleblower disclosure to the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement.

The ODCE will ask the High Court on April 16th to appoint inspectors to investigate corporate governance issues at the company following a year-long investigation arising from Mr Pitt’s disclosures.

Details leaked from an affidavit filed in court by the Director of Corporate Enforcement Ian Drennan – reported by INM’s own newspapers since the weekend – revealed the extent of the alleged data breach.

The Irish Independent reported on Friday that Mr Pitt was told by a concerned INM employee in May 2015 during a walk outside the company’s Dublin offices that a third party had been given access to INM’s servers.

Mr Doorly indicated to staff at yesterday’s meeting that anyone within the company who facilitated access to the servers had been “ordered” to do so.

An INM spokesman said Mr Doorly’s remarks had been made at an internal staff meeting and that the company would not make any further comment about them.