A COUPLE's sensitive information was accidentally leaked by Wiltshire Council, the Journal can reveal.

Partners Charlie Ash, 21, and Sophie Bell, 18, had just been activated on the council's house lettings scheme 'Homes4Wiltshire' in September when a budget form containing their private data was mistakingly sent to a different couple.

The pair were alerted about the leak after Rhiannon Taylor contacted them through Facebook and informed them that Wiltshire Council had mistakingly sent her an email intended for Mr Ash.

The data breach was reported to the Information Governance Team on September 26 but the council initially contacted Miss Taylor suggesting Mr Ash claimed she was harassing him.

Salisbury Journal: Sophie Bell and Charlie Ash are concerned about who their information has been shared with.Sophie Bell and Charlie Ash are concerned about who their information has been shared with. (Image: Charlie Ash)

In an email seen by the Journal, a Wiltshire Council officer said: "It has been drawn to my attention this morning that you may have received a budget planner intended for another customer of the council's, Charlie Ash.

"I am aware of this because Mr Ash alleges that you are harassing him and his partner, advising that you know all about him and where he lives.

"It is unacceptable for you to use the information which the council sent in error to harass him."

Mr Ash told the Journal that this was entirely untrue, that Miss Taylor was "lovely" and at no point did she harass him.

When this point was raised by Mr Ash to Wiltshire Council, it responded: "Rhiannon was asked to delete the email which included the budget form.

"It is unfortunate that, rather than accepting the situation and deleting the email, Rhiannon chose to read the budget form and make contact with you to discuss that she was aware of the information in the form, causing you this alarm."

Miss Taylor said that she was "very shaken" after reading the allegations of harassment from Wiltshire Council.

"It's really shown me that Wiltshire Council will try to pin anything on anyone to cover up its mistakes. I was accused of harassment because I knew of the person that they had leaked the data about through a mutual connection," she said.

Sincere apologies were offered to Mr Ash but he said "an apology doesn't help at all", adding: "We are now at risk of lord knows what as we don't know who else could have received this sensitive information."

Salisbury Journal: Councillor Phil Alford said the council's procedures have been reviewed.Councillor Phil Alford said the council's procedures have been reviewed. (Image: Wiltshire Council)

Councillor Phil Alford, cabinet member for housing, said Wiltshire Council has given staff more training and amended its processes to ensure this doesn't happen again.

He said: "A data breach involving confidential client information was reported to out Information Governance Team on 26 September. The incident was investigated and our housing team apologies to both the data owner and the data recipient.

"After a review of our procedures, we have taken steps including additional staff training and amending administrative processes to ensure that personal data of this type cannot be accidentally shared with a third party.”