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back to article High Court shields database state from blame

An entrepreneur whose fledgling business was ruined by a false entry in a court database has had his claim for compensation rejected by a High Court judge. The decision could set a broad and troubling precedent, because Mr Justice Bill Blair QC - brother of the former PM Tony Blair - ruled that the civil service cannot be found …

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Scary, but not surprising.

Take responsibility for their fuckup that has caused an incredible amount of damage? Don't be silly.

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FAIL

So there you have it

We will do everything in our power to get as much information as we can and load it all into a database but if we are wrong then its Tough Luck on your part.

In America (i believe although this could be wrong) if an update is made to your Credit Record you must be informed of the change by law. Pity we don't have laws to protect us from Fat fingered civil servants.

If we want this service in this country we have to pay for it.

Is it just me or are things getting a whole lot more scary.

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Stop

Very Scary.

Makes immigrating a serious thought with all this crap going on.

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Unhappy

well that's us stuffed

So the precedent, that has now been set, is that the databases, so beloved of nu labor, are always right even when they're wrong, and that civil serpents are correctly discharging their duty when the f**k up.

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Black Helicopters

title

We're all screwed.

What we need is self control, not centralised control.

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So it's official

If there is no possible comeback on them for making a mistake, there is no reason for them to bother taking any care.

So it is now official that the credit database is utterly worthless and should never be trusted.

And exactly the same for all the other government databases.

What civil servant is going to spend all his time making sure that the information he enters is accurate, when he can improve his performance figures by entering the data faster and not bothering about accuracy? If his fingers fumble, carry on and get the data in faster. If information is missing, make up something on the spot and get the data in faster. Get promoted due to better performance, over the heads of the idiots who think they have some kind of duty of care to the citizens they are 'serving'.

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And yet...

... they still expect us to believe our details are safe with them.

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WTF?

Can I see the job description?

So it's now official : making cock ups that ruin people's lives is part of a civil servant's duties ?

I'd like to see the contract that says so - if not I don't see how that can be upheld in court.

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Big Brother

Not really a problem

This will only affect you if our almighty database wielding overlords make a mistake, and as we all know, they are the very acme of flawlessness.

In cases like this where there is a discrepancy between The Database(tm) and reality then reality must therefore be in breach of the law and will be corrected immediately (or as soon as is convenient for the overlords).

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WTF?

Whistling Brazil ...

The Beetle's career comes to a halt... squashed flat on the brilliantly clean ceiling... or has it? As the Technician clambers down from the rickety heights, the Beetle's carcass comes unstuck from the ceiling and drops silently into the typewriting machine which hiccups, hesitates and then types the letter "B" and hesitates and then continues so that the next name is Buttle, Archibald.

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Grenade

What an outrage

I really feel for this guy. I'm sick and tired of the public sector utterly FAILING in their duty and getting off scot free.

Although is it any surprise Mr Blair's brother was in on the cover-up... er I mean act?

I think we should all chip in and get the guy enough money to take these useless incompetent corrupt fuckwits to the European court!

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Anonymous Coward

What happened to data integrity?

So... we have massive databases storing personal and highly confidential information about us, but the... maintainers of those databases have no responsibility to anyone to ensure that the information is accurate?

So what use is the data? If I was a firm that relied on credit checks etc, I'd start looking elsewhere. Imagine if it was the other way round - imagine a bank lending money to a guy who had gone bankrupt 6 times because he spent his money on alcohol, all because the government told them he was good for it.

With this ruling, they may as well have said, "Dont trust our data, its completely worthless, we wont stake anything on it"

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Kafka would be proud...

... Goes to dig out his copy of "The Trial"... ;-)

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yet ANOTHER authority that has it's OWN LAW!

What is must be like to be above the law, yet ANOTHER authority that has it's OWN LAW, do as we say not as we do. The fuck up, we get the fucking. I perfect database worthy of hacking and marking all THEM with CCJ's, I wonder if THEY would get compensation if THEY lost their home. Where's the justice? There isn't any.

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Unhappy

Responsibility? You must be kidding

> If there is no possible comeback on them for making a mistake, there is no reason for them to bother taking any care.

Unfortunately the civil service has never been big on personal responsibility or accountability. I guess this does bring home just how scary a weapon these databases are when they're in the wrong hands. Other than a passing moan, I'm buggered if I know what to do about it though.

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Will the last one out of Britian please turn off the lights?

Im not surprised at the verdict, nor am I bothered.

This country is fucked, and Im ashamed to say that I live in it.

Maybe I should just do the sensible thing, enroll in university for 3 years, claim the full amount of grants and loans and then move to another country with £20k of free money (hell I could even claim vast amounts of credit from banks..)

The current economic and social system as it is, put simply, DOES NOT WORK.

Its not just a matter of the servents stealing the silverware while the house burns, but more a matter of the servents setting fire to the house, stealing the silverware, the grandfather clock, carpets and lightbulbs and then furthermore protesting their innocence to us, the public, owner of said house; with pocketfulls of silver and handfulls of matches.

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MnM
Boffin

Not the case with the Land Registry

IANAL so taking a large liberty with the geek, but I *think* that the Land Registry is responsible for the title data it holds. I've a very hazy recollection of a case where a fraudster managed to get on official record that he owned a property, 'sold' it to someone else and ran off with the cash, for the buyer to find out he didn't actually have title. I believe the buyer then went to court and successfully held the Land Registry to account. Does this ring any bells with anyone more clued up? And anyone know what places this obligation on the Land Registry?

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Joke

Not really very funny

I have nothing to hide, therefore everything to fear.

Now I know why they don't want euthenasia to be legal in this country. Stop the planet please.

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Grenade

Law unto themselves, eh?

Some years ago, an episode in the county courts (as plaintiff, mind, don't get any funny ideas) lead to me being told by an usher that the judges "are a law unto themselves". This was in response to me asking when the hearing would start, nothing more sinister than that, but it appears that this gentleman was more right than he knew.

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Unhappy

I wish...

That people in this country would realise and understand that the three major political groups do not CARE what so ever about the people they represent.

They lie, mislead and say anything and i mean anything to get into power.

Why?

Because they can, because there is no recourse what so ever when they get found out as they have in the past made the laws to make themselves immune to the law.

Look at this, a court cause is decided against the wronged person because "It would set president" wtf? when the hell does justice mean not deciding on a person because it might effect future cases?

In this case the court screwed up and it caused a person to lose there business and even after finding the problem they still did not correct it properly.

You don't like this? The only thing you can do now is when the next election comes up don't vote for any of the big three parties, and speak to three other people get them to change there vote to anyone but the big three and get them to talk to three other people.

Otherwise anyone who does not care enough to vote or talk to people about how the current three are ruining everything deserves everything they get.

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@Anonymous

That's right anon, you immigrate [sic].

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Thumb Up

Only in the UK.........

Only in the UK do people let themselvs get shafted to this extent.

We could all learn a thing or two from Guy Fawkes.

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Coat

Discharge of duties...

Sounds like the Nuremburg Defence to me, I thought Plod teaches us 'ignornace is not a defence' or does that only apply to us serfs and peasants. If anything it Govt and civil service should be the MOST accountable consdiering the draconian s**t they pull and the utter imcompetence with which they do it.

Mine's the one with plane tickets outta this country I'm ashamed to call home

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Big Brother

The Experian Extortion Racket

Experian will just love this story, no chance they will get sued and more fear spread to drive people to pay for the privilege of checking their records are accurate, what a scam!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The Experian Extortion Racket

Experian is utterly useless... now they get into "switch your accounts with us... we'll do it better than anyone else" game too...

I'm only signed up with their CreditExpert service because the b***tards made me believe that my credit rating was shot to hell (while Equifax on the other hand rightly believed me to be a good risk).

Now I'm watching Experian to see when they screw up.

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Alert

Mr Power does have a come back against Experian

I don't understand the comment that Experian can't be held liable either. They have a legal responsibility to keep accurate records under the DPA. The fact that they were supplied with duff information is their problem.

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Big Brother

@Adam Salisbury

Everything unpleasant & onerous only applies to us serfs, peasants & hoi-polloi.

Unsurprising that yet again, there's a total foul-up with a Blair involved...

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Any chance of appealing to the European Court?

It comes to something when we can't run our own country and have more faith in Belgians to do it for us.

Well I do, anyway. And - sadly - that's not a compliment on the Belgians.

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Anonymous Coward

Fingers crossed

Best hope that you don't accidentally end up on the sex offenders register (false accusations of CCJs would pale into insignificance by comparison).

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N2
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Gordon Clown & chums

Accept responsibility for loosing data?

no chance.

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Unhappy

I thought sex in a public place was frowned on....

but it's Ok for the Legislature to shaft a guy in court?

If this doesn't highlight the crushing need for an overhaul of our legal system nothing will.

I'm not one, I'm an IT contractor, but I've worked closely with many Civil Servants over the last few years (can't tell you who, where or why, the OSA gets in the way) and many of them are just trying to do the best they can in miserable circumstances, but there are some who make the most almight cock-ups and instead of getting fired (as I would if I made such an error) they get promoted or gently shunted sideways. Accountability? Lip service at best!

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Flame

By comparison - in the real world....

I work in an industry where we measure things and pass the results to people to make decisions on the basis of them. (I'll keep it vague - at work etc)

We have procedures to cover the reporting of the results so that we report the correct value to the correct person. This includes a checking stage at the time of the report and monthly checks to make sure that our measuring devices are given correct values.

Every couple of months one of my colleagues comes round and dissects a random report from the measurement through to the report posted and the device checks . Every year a couple of people from UKAS call and dissect our systems and several reports to see that we are doing things properly - and if we are up to the job we get our accreditiation renewed.

what's the betting that there's nothing like this in the county court system, nor has any civil servant even thought of such an approach...

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Big Brother

Stop CP

Stinks of Common Purpose.

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Daggers Edge

MnM: there is more to worry about concerning the Land Registry than who holds the title. The fact is, that the Land Registry not only isn't responsible for defining boundaries, it doesn't even know where the precise boundary is. That's right, the Land Registry database is useless if you have a boundary problem. Title deeds are also useless because they often indadequately describe the boundaries.

So if you have a problem with your neighbour, the only way to precisely define the boundaries is to go to court at an often prohibitive cost. This has been going on since 1875 and no-one has done anything to correct it. There is little hope, therefore, that anything will be done to correct the problems with the credit databases, the criminal records databases, etc.

There is little hope, that is, unless there is a revolution...provided that the side who wins cares about these matters.

By the way, I have obtained my information about boundaries from

www.gardenlaw.co.uk

and also from

http://www.boundary-problems.co.uk

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Bah!

This entirely disgraceful state of affairs has been the norm in the USA for far too long too. Error compound in data sources and get passed along blindly by organisations whose "integrety" is beyond question, each entity in the chain safe from a fault determination. This story has been told again and again (usually for individuals rather than companies) with people losing houses, jobs and assets while those responsible for the perpetuation and spreading of the "information" all chant "not my fault". Never mind that the actual mistakes border on libel. Not only that, someone often makes money by selling the erroneous data to others (I'm thinking of a Sherrif in the US who some years ago sold inaccurate data claiming a man was a felon, data that cause the man some considerable financial and social harm, to a number of places then tried - with a straight face, nay a scowl for the reporter's presumption in asking, I might add - to claim he wasn't in any way responsible for that harm).

Where's that self-confessed MS DA twillup who was so vocal on the "only a database" question a month ago now? Perhaps if he'd ever run a *real* database instead of those joke MS SQl Server toys he was let loose on he'd have seen *all* the possibilities, not just the abstract ones.

And all those AC's who get so upset about eBay and Paypal now see they miss the larger issue while yowling about minutiae. It doesn't matter how accurate the data is/are (pick the one that doesn't make you unhappy), until there is accountability and redress these bloody systems are a danger to the public wellbeing.

*This* is what people should be writing to their congressman/MP about.

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Data Protection

He should have gone after them with the Data Protection Act. Details held against him were incorrect.

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Anonymous Coward

another potential homegrown terroist there then!

If i was this guy and had been shafted so royally, isn't possible that i would think i have nothing left to loose?

The most dangerous type of person in the whole world is someone with nothing to loose...

So, in a round about way they can use this to justify the other excessive databases such as IMP as they (the establishment) are creating more and more people with a major grip against the state... no longer is it religion or culture, now we have simple revenge terrorism.

AC for obvious reasons = i used the T word, so MI5 screenscrapers will be noting user names etc!

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Anonymous Coward

There is an alternative...

I don't know if this will make it through Sarah, but for all those who don't want to vote for the big three fuckers, there is an alternative to vote for. They are called the UK Libertarian Party.

Oh, and Chris...very well done for such an excellent article.

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Unhappy

not surprised!!!

I've been the victim of incorrect credit entries on my file no less than 3 times - I'm only 28!

First time, fathers credit appearing on my file, car loan at 14 years of age apparently... when I tried to get a student account by 20 they claimed I'd had this loan for 6 years and not paid anything off... took almost a year to clear up.

Second time, CCJ logged against me, never happenned, never heard of the company. Took a year to clear up, ruined a mortgage application.

Third time - Virgin Media decided they'd raid their old accounts from back in the NTL days, and logged a few defaults on to my file from when I cancelled my NTL account and they decided to keep it going... took about 6 months to clear up, increased my car credit interest rate and ruined another mortgage application.

Next time - not going to happen, the second I finish paying off my car and clear my student loan I'm going to emmigrate... unless I'm suddenly put on a no fly register, or worse...

Worst thing is... my name is far from common. Feel sorry for the Smiths and Patel's of this country.

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@AC

Not to worry Mr. Tuttle (or was it Buttle, not that we care).

We have traced back to your ip address and figured out who you are anyway.

One of our operatives will be calling shortly regarding your use of the T word.

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IT Angle

The IT angle...

...is that in the land of code we already know that running the entire system at maximum privilege is a really bad idea.

A 21st century constitution would make just about every branch of the state subject to the same laws as private individuals and corporations. Bye bye to Gordon's PFI accounting. Bye bye to this notion that the civil service (note, not individual civil servants) is not liable for the consequences of its own actions. (Of course, that still leaves you dependent on the ease of access to the court system and the quality of its verdicts. I'm not pretending to have ALL the answers here. :)

As I recall, there was an attempt in the 18th century to set up a country along similar lines, with checks and balances. Anyone know how it turned out?

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Big Brother

Dear Sheeple

We will demand of you your personal and intimate details and stick them in a database of dubious security.

If *you* fail to notify *us* of any changes to said details we will fine the shit out of you or chuck you in jail.

If *we* make a f**k up and ruin *your* life and reputation then its just tough shit.

If you complain about said f**k up we will fine the shit out of you or chuck you in jail.

Lots of Luv

HM Government.

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Grenade

Plus ca change...

Nothing has really changed since the days of William the Conqueror, except that the state has immensely expanded its size and power, and can now harm us in ways that the Normans could never have dreamed of.

The English Civil War was fought to establish the principle that everyone should be treated alike under the law, and that no man should be allowed to impose his will on others just because he is more important than they are. No less a person than King Charles I had his head cut off for thinking that he could.

Yet today the bureaucracy arrogates to itself all the privileges that medieval kings had - and then some. It sends people to prison wrongly, and after they get out ten or 20 years later, it neither apologises nor compensates them. It forcibly removes the people of the Chagos Islands from their homes to make way for a giant US military base, and ignores all legal verdicts ordering it to let them go back. Bored with the tedious necessity of passing bills through Parliament, it has recently given itself the right to make thousands of new laws by the stroke of a pen. And now we see that it deems itself utterly beyond control, rebuke, or punishment when it commits acts of negligent incompetence.

And what justification do these people have for their high-handedness? What differentiates them from the kings of old, who ruled by force and superstition? Why, nothing more than a new superstition - our belief in "democracy", meaning that every five years or so we have the right to choose between two candidates chosen and groomed by the two main political parties. And what do those MPs whom we choose go on to do, once they arrive in Parliament? They diligently vote their party line in the hope of some day getting ministerial office. We might just as well vote for so many poker chips, and award them to the two party leaders.

Every voter should read "A New Great Reform Act" by Sir Antony Jay, author of "Yes Minister", who knows the ways of the bureaucracy only too well. It isn't there for our benefit, but for its own.

http://www.cps.org.uk/cps_catalog/A%20New%20Great%20Reform%20Act.pdf

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I don't really have anything to add

I am just totally shocked at this, and feel the need to say it. How can such a judgement be reached?

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Big Brother

cosmicvisitor@hotmail.com

Why are judges immune from negligence claims? Are they gods or Popes? Only in England you see crap like that.

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FAIL

immigrunts

If you lot aren't careful this page will end up on "Speak your branes"

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WTF?

THE DATABASES ARE COMING

Please re-run the databases rant; it somehow seems fitting to go with this travesty.

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WTF?

What law did he sue under?

I would have thought this would be a clear cut case of suing under the Data Protection Act since he can illustrate actual damages due to inaccurate data; whereas the DPA requires organisations and public authorities to keep accurate data regarding individuals and affords victims of incorrect data the right to damages under a civil suit.

I didn't see any mention of what legislation the plaintiff sought damages through but if it was not the DPA he may well have another angle of attack there. I can't see a valid defense to mitigate this under DPA as irrespective of whether or not the civil servant was "discharging their duties" the data was inaccurate and did cause demonstrable damage ergo it should be a cut and dry case. To my knowledge the DPA is not concerned with casting blame - the damages should be awarded purely due to the fact that damage was incurred as a result of inaccurate data.

Alexander Hanff

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Big Brother

If nobody cares...

One of the characteristics of databases is that, unless extraordinary efforts are made, they end up full of errors.

Now, if I don't care and the civil servants don't care, who will maintain the accuracy of the ID card database? If the ID card database isn't accurate, neither is the ID card.

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