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Call for Home Office Not To Get Data Protection Exemptions

Exempting the Home Office from new data protection rules could lead to miscarriages of justice, the Law Society of England and Wales and the Bar Council have warned.

Exempting the Home Office from new data protection rules could lead to miscarriages of justice, the Law Society of England and Wales and the Bar Council have warned.

Like thousands of other firms across the country, Sweeney Miller has been ensuring compliance with new GDPR rules due to come into force before the end of May 2018.

But the Law Society has pointed out that The Data Protection Bill currently before Parliament exempts the Home Office from personal data requests, that has prompted Law Society president Joe Egan to warn the Bill will undermine the ability of British and EU citizens, as well as other non-UK nationals, to challenge unlawful deportation ordetention.

“Recent events have shown how important it is to be able to scrutinise Home Office decision making,” he said.

“The GDPR and Data Protection Bill are based on accountability and transparency and the proposed exemption completely flies in the face of these principles.

“Anyone seeking their own personal data from the Home Office could be denied access without justification and with no avenue to appeal.”

Chair of the Bar Andrew Walker QC said: “If the new law is brought into force in the form the government wants, then those Commonwealth citizens – and many others – who are lawfully living and working in the UK will be denied the right to know what information the Home Office holds about them, which could make the difference between success and failure in a legal challenge to their wrongful detention or removal.

“The Home Office has a notoriously bad track record for unlawful decision-making, which can have catastrophic consequences for people who are detained indefinitely in removal centres or wrongfully deported.

“The legal profession’s concerns about the Bill were first raised many months ago, and we would urge the government to listen to them, even at this late stage.”

The Law Society and Bar Council are calling on all parties to remove the immigration control exemption from the Data Protection Bill and leave the Home Office subject to the same rules as everybody else.

Paul Miller of Sweeney Miller said: “This is an ongoing issue that needs to be closely looked at.

“Ourselves, along with so many other companies, have worked hard on making sure we are GDPR compliant and it is important that every effort is made to ensure that the law is fit for purpose from the start.”

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