TNT Express Services is co-operating with HM Revenue & Customs and the Metropolitan Police following the disappearance of two computer discs containing personal details of 25 million people.
The government has blamed a junior official for breaking the rules on the movement of confidential data.
TNT operates the general internal mail system for the HMRC and other associated government agencies and carries up to 100,000 items of mail each night on behalf of HMRC.
The missing information on child benefit recipients was apparently sent by a junior official at HMRC’s office in Washington to the National Audit Office, but never arrived. The discs contain details of 25m individuals, 7.25m families – including children’s names, addresses, dates of birth, NI numbers and where relevant bank and building society account details.
In a statement, TNT said the company co-operated fully with HMRC when the problem first arose and has continued to do so throughout the period since the discs were reported as lost.
It pointed out that general mail “does not carry a track and trace mechanism and hence it has been impossible, in this instance, to conduct an audit to identify if the item entered the system”.
Options exist for the sender to choose a consigned service with full track and trace, and, said TNT, “it is important to note that the replacement discs were despatched on a consigned service, eg, with full track and trace visibility on October 24th and subsequently delivered within the required time frame the following morning.”
The statement concluded: “At this stage we are unable to offer any further comment as police investigations continue and an Independent Police Complaints Commission inquiry is about to be launched.”