David Hartnett, director general of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC), admitted yesterday that the loss of the child benefit database was just the latest, and largest, giveaway of supposedly private data by the department.
Hartnett told the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee that HMRC was aware of seven other data breaches since Revenue and Customs merged in 2005.
Hartnett accepted that the repeated failures pointed to a systemic failure at the dysfunctional department. One of the seven cases involved what should have been confidential waste falling off the back of a lorry.
HMRC lost a disc containing banking details in 2006 and subsequently changed its "security" procedures.
Hartnett told the committee: "We introduced at that stage more stringent rules. We set out in 2006 to learn lessons in relation to security and to tighten things up."
Hartnett replaced Paul Gray, who resigned as a result of the failures. Gray is now working for the Cabinet Office. ®