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accused of data theft

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  • accused of data theft

    Evening all
    I need some guidance as to what I am to do next. Today I received several messages whilst out to call my current MD ( I am on gardening leave unitl the 18th of this month) I have handed my notice in with this company but today I was accussed of stealing data.
    The data in question is a delivery schedule with company names delivery dates and costs on it, I have emailed this spreadsheet to myself in the past to work on at home and figured if I'm still on the books until the 18th I may get asked by our sales guys or my manager for an update. I have not accessed this spreadsheet nor used it in any malicious way but my MD has called my wife the police my future employer and told them I stand accused of data theft.

    I have tried to explain this afternoon the above reason for emailing it myself but my MD has no interest in my explanation and has called the police.
    I have spoken to the police and am currently waiting to speak to the investigating officer,My main concern is my new job and any potential lawsuit I may face what should I be doing ?
    Last edited by wuzzy; 15th May 2018, 19:42:PM.
    Tags: None

  • #2
    Update in the respect of having now spoken to my future employer, he is not particularly bothered and trusts my reasons for having done this, he has agreed to speak to my current MD tomorrow in detail as per my MD's request but he has call recording and will let me know if he crosses any lines as he basically wants to tell him he is not interested in what he has to say.... phew!! I'm relieved he is not bothered and very understanding now I only have to worry about a police investigation.

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    • #3
      Hello First of all I have tagged Ula in case she can comment further, but do you actually understand what garden leave means in practice? It means you are effectively restricted from working at your current employment and is generally used by employers if you are moving to work for a competitor but also to ensure that any sensitive or confidential information is retained within the business and/or to prevent the employee from any attempt to take that information to their new employer. As for the question of theft, I am not able to give you a definitive answer but in order to be convicted of theft, you have to dishonestly appropriate property belonging to the other with the intention of permanently depriving them of it. You have to satisfy two things, doing the act and the knowledge of doing it. The act = appropriating property belong to another The knowledge = dishonestly and the intention to permanently deprive From what you have said so far, I am not sure that you would be found guilty of theft, because you didn't do it dishonestly and you don't appear to have the intention of permanently depriving your employer of the documents. It all depends really on what you said to the police at the time. If they charge you or say you need to sign some confession then I would strongly suggest you seek legal advice before doing so, particularly if you feel like you are being pressured.
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      • #4
        Originally posted by wuzzy View Post
        Evening all
        I need some guidance as to what I am to do next. Today I received several messages whilst out to call my current MD ( I am on gardening leave unitl the 18th of this month) I have handed my notice in with this company but today I was accussed of stealing data.
        The data in question is a delivery schedule with company names delivery dates and costs on it, I have emailed this spreadsheet to myself in the past to work on at home and figured if I'm still on the books until the 18th I may get asked by our sales guys or my manager for an update. I have not accessed this spreadsheet nor used it in any malicious way but my MD has called my wife the police my future employer and told them I stand accused of data theft.

        I have tried to explain this afternoon the above reason for emailing it myself but my MD has no interest in my explanation and has called the police.
        I have spoken to the police and am currently waiting to speak to the investigating officer,My main concern is my new job and any potential lawsuit I may face what should I be doing ?
        To add to what Rob has said in speaking to the investigating officer I wouldn't say anything other than asking whether they intend to follow up the complaint and how they intend to do that. It will most likely be an interview under caution, so I think you'd be best to be accompanied by a Solicitor and if you do not have one already ask them to provide the duty one at the interview.

        Go down the route of agreeing an opening statement with the solicitor which should outline that you know the data is theirs, why you emailed it to yourself and that you did not do that dishonestly or with the intent to deprive them of it, but that the actual intent was to fulfil your obligations to them as their employee by reporting as you usually would to the sales guys or you manager.

        Then "no comment" will probably be advised by the solicitor.

        I think once you have spoken with the Police and on the assumption they proceed with no further action you may want to consider a claim against you former employer under the Defamation Act 2013 s1 as his actions in contacting a future employer would be likely to cause serious harm to your reputation.
        Last edited by jaguarsuk; 16th May 2018, 09:33:AM.
        HOW TO COMPLETE AN N180 DIRECTIONS QUESTIONNAIRE (SMALL CLAIMS TRACK) FORM?

        My posts on this forum are offered based on my experience dealing with a variety of life events. I have no formal legal training and if in doubt take professional legal advice or contact the CAB. If you follow anything I write on this forum you do so at your own risk and I accept no liability for any loss, costs or other outcomes.

        I do not come on here in the evening, at weekends or on public holidays.

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        • #5
          Hi, I cannot deal with the police investigation but Rob and Jaquarsuk have provided a comprehensive response on that .

          In regard to gardening leave then Rob is correct in the explanation of why this is done particularly if an employee is going to a competitor and the employer wants to prevent up-to-date sensitive information being taken. In my view "
          company names delivery dates and costs" would be considered as sensitive information. However well meaning your intentions it was not something that you should have emailed to yourself whilst on gardening leave.

          It is good to hear that your new employer although aware of the situation is not interested.

          As another thought if you had a confidentiality clause in your contract then that will be binding on you for the duration which normally are whilst in employment of the company and sometimes for a period thereafter - which means even though you had that information you would be bound by that clause not to divulge that information. If you have that clause in your contract then would possibly be something to also mention to the investigating officer.
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          • #6
            Thanks all today has been another barrage of emails and texts from my MD as to why I emailed my self on several other dates in the past and it transpires it came about through a member of staff who is currently going through my works computer with my login details and scanning through all my data,she just happened to stumble across this one. Is that even legal ?
            oh and thanks for the explanation on gardening leave, I was not aware of the conditions around it as this is the first tie ive been on it and just assumed it was a generic term. I am waiting to conduct a voluntary interview and I will ask for the duty solicitor thanks for the heads up.
            I have spoken to former colleagues out of work and they have all been informed of what is going on so I assume that's the formal procedure of internal investigation out of the window.
            I'm fairly confident that the police matter will go nowhere as I know I'm telling the truth but I'm slightly concerned as to what civil matters he could induce ?

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            • #7
              Just to add we have no confidentiality clause as such just a computer use policy based around some generic it safety training which we had to sign, Given that my MD has used my emergency contact details to contact my wife and disclose what I am accused of to the entire office and my wife and my future employer is he then not also in breach of data protection laws surrounding my data ?

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by wuzzy View Post
                Thanks all today has been another barrage of emails and texts from my MD as to why I emailed my self on several other dates in the past and it transpires it came about through a member of staff who is currently going through my works computer with my login details and scanning through all my data,she just happened to stumble across this one. Is that even legal ?
                oh and thanks for the explanation on gardening leave, I was not aware of the conditions around it as this is the first tie ive been on it and just assumed it was a generic term. I am waiting to conduct a voluntary interview and I will ask for the duty solicitor thanks for the heads up.
                I have spoken to former colleagues out of work and they have all been informed of what is going on so I assume that's the formal procedure of internal investigation out of the window.
                I'm fairly confident that the police matter will go nowhere as I know I'm telling the truth but I'm slightly concerned as to what civil matters he could induce ?
                Thanks for the update, it is sensible to have a solicitor in all formal dealings with the Police as a suspect or accused. I would let the officer know in advance as they can arranged the DS to be there, if you ask as you arrive it might cause some delay in awaiting them turning up.

                In regards to your MD's barrage of calls, texts and emails. Phone 101 and make a report of Harassment under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. Keep copies of everything as later if you choose to claim against him then you can. The Police however will visit you to ascertain what is going on and you should ask they issue him a formal warning under the act.

                They'll then visit him to warn him and ask him to sign a document to confirm he will cease his behaviour.

                The computer is their property and therefore they can at anytime access it and it's contents.

                Originally posted by wuzzy View Post
                Just to add we have no confidentiality clause as such just a computer use policy based around some generic it safety training which we had to sign, Given that my MD has used my emergency contact details to contact my wife and disclose what I am accused of to the entire office and my wife and my future employer is he then not also in breach of data protection laws surrounding my data ?
                Yes you could claim under Data Protection laws as he has not processed the data held as an emergency contact lawfully. An Emergency contact was given to be contacted in an emergency not to defame your character and so he would be in breach.

                Regards the colleagues it's the same as with the future employer, Defamation Act 2013 having caused serious harm to your reputation.

                In bringing a claim you would need to prove that he has divulged it to colleagues, that would require a Witness Statement and if still employed there it's unlikely someone would want to jeopardise their job by doing that. Your future employer seems game though given he's recording the call for you.
                HOW TO COMPLETE AN N180 DIRECTIONS QUESTIONNAIRE (SMALL CLAIMS TRACK) FORM?

                My posts on this forum are offered based on my experience dealing with a variety of life events. I have no formal legal training and if in doubt take professional legal advice or contact the CAB. If you follow anything I write on this forum you do so at your own risk and I accept no liability for any loss, costs or other outcomes.

                I do not come on here in the evening, at weekends or on public holidays.

                Comment

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