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Legal dispute in data protection breach case

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A DISPUTE has arisen over whether a trust company should be forced to reveal details about client company accounts and information about its own staff to lawyers representing the wife of a former States Deputy who denies data protection breaches.

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An advocate acting for Irina Le Cornu and her husband, Nick, who are separately charged with related offences, argued before Assistant Magistrate Peter Harris that the prosecution should be forced to hand over attachments to historical emails sent by the principal of Verite Trust, George Machin.

Advocate Matthew Jowitt, who represented the Le Cornus, contended that the defence had a right to view ‘undisclosed’ material if they believed it could assist their case.

But Howard Tobias, the director of the criminal division at the Law Officers’ department, argued it was for the prosecution to decide what undisclosed material should be given to the defence.

He said he was satisfied that, having conducted a review of the unused disclosure material, the material in question was not relevant or was not capable of assisting the defence. Mr Tobias said he was ‘satisfied the proper process has been followed’. He added: ‘It is for the prosecution to decide and not the court on disclosure.’

Assistant Magistrate Mr Harris said: ‘In a nutshell, it is the prosecution’s view I have no power to order the disclosure of such material.’

But Advocate Jowitt argued the Assistant Magistrate did have the power and there was clear precedent in local law. ‘I have suggested that a safe way to proceed would be for the court to review the prosecutor’s decision,’ he said.

The court heard that the data in question is a mixture of company accounts, in which directors names are revealed, as well as spreadsheets about employee holidays and sick leave.

Having heard detailed submissions that lasted over an hour, Mr Harris said that he would give his decision in due course.

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Irina Le Cornu (55), denies three alleged breaches of Data Protection Law relating to dealings with Verite Trust Company. She has pleaded not guilty to charges of knowingly or recklessly obtaining personal data and information regarding company accounts, financial reports and audits in the names of clients of Verite Trust Company.

It is further alleged she obtained personal data of clients and also of employee timesheets without the consent of the relevant data controller. The three alleged offences took place between 30 May 2016 and 19 August 2016. A date of 23 March has been set for her trial in the Magistrate’s Court.

Nicholas Basil Le Cornu (59) has pleaded not guilty to allegedly committing the offence on 18 October 2016 of ‘with intent to pervert the course of justice, he disclosed to another that he would only delete confidential information belonging to Verite Trust Company if they settled a claim in which his wife Irina Le Cornu was a claimant’.

His trial is scheduled for 12 April.

Both defendants, who were granted continuing bail on the basis that they live at their Havre des Pas home, were warned to reappear on 23 March.

Lucy Stephenson

By Lucy Stephenson
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