07 April 2020 John Green – Green CDL Ltd

A junior solicitor has been struck off the roll of solicitors after leaving sensitive documents on a train then lying to her firm to buy more time to try to find the documents.  

Claire Louise Matthews, who only qualified less than a year before the incident, left a colleague’s briefcase on the train on her way home. It wasn’t until 6 days after the incident that she told a colleague she had left the briefcase at home, she later sent an email to her supervisor claiming it had been left on the train that morning

Matthews, who had only been working at Capsticks Birmingham office for a month, said she was ‘overcome by uncontrollable fear, anxiety and panic’ in the days following the incident. She denied acting without integrity and being dishonest but the tribunal found that her conduct was not a moment of madness but rather her conduct was self-serving with her only motivation to protect herself from what she perceived to be a risk to her employment. They found that Matthews had acted dishonestly in that she had been aware she had lost the briefcase for almost a week before she first lied to her colleague about it, during this time she continued in the office as if nothing had happened. When she finally stated the briefcase had ben lost she lied about the timing of events by deliberately giving her firm false information.

Matthews, who now works in a call centre, was struck off the roll of solicitors and ordered to pay £10,000 costs.

It is vitally important employers ensure their employees are aware of the implications of not reporting a data breach as soon as it has happened, in this case Matthews was under the mistaken belief her jobs was at stake and as a result tried to brush it under the carpet.

John Green, in house solicitor Green CDL Ltd a company providing cyber security and data protection training, eLearning, advice and Cyber Essentials certification.

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