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Mixed messages from HMRC over data loss blame

As the full implications of the loss of two discs containing 25 million people's personal details by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs begin to sink in, it's interesting to notice how the blame for the fiasco seems to be shifting from a "junior official" to the "team" in which he or she was a member.The immediate reaction by HMRC was some hysterical finger pointing.

As the full implications of the loss of two discs containing 25 million people's personal details by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs begin to sink in, it's interesting to notice how the blame for the fiasco seems to be shifting from a "junior official" to the "team" in which he or she was a member.

The immediate reaction by HMRC was some hysterical finger pointing. According to the Guardian, HMRC on Wednesday said that the junior official was acting as a lone gun, "completely outside of their remit".

According to the Guardian, a spokesperson for HMRC said: "This individual should not have been involved. It was none of their business. They should have forwarded it on to someone else - another group of civil servants at a more senior level."

"The HMRC office is a huge office with 200 people and there is a nominated team that send items between us and other departments. The individual in question had nothing to do with that team and it was completely outside their job remit."

I particularly like the bit in the article which says:

[An HMRC] official described the situation as being like "going to a bank clerk to ask for a £15m loan when I should really be dealing with the manager".

All pretty compelling stuff. Case closed, right?

Wrong. When I rang HMRC on Thursday, I was told by a spokeperson that it was not currently known who exactly had given the order for the discs to be made, but that there had been "a team of people involved in the process", and that HMRC was "trying to move away from the idea of a junior official sitting there pressing buttons off his own back."

Wednesday: Guilty! Thursday: Team responsibility!

I wonder whether the current inquiry into what exactly happened will actually get to the bottom of it? And whether those truly responsible, the senior level officials and up, will get any come-back?