A woman has received £75,000 after details of domestic abuse which she suffered were made public by police without her consent.

The settlement struck between the woman, who cannot be identified, and Greater Manchester Police (GMP) is believed to be one of the biggest ever payouts by a British force in a privacy case.

She had originally agreed in 2014 to the force making reference to her treatment at the hands of a former partner in a proposed training session for officers and certain support agencies involved in tackling abuse on the understanding that the material was anonymised.

However, she later learned that personal information, including her identity and medical history, were disclosed in full and to a wider audience. In addition, those in attendance were also played a tape of a 999 call which she had made after one assault.

The force’s Chief Constable, Ian Hopkins, has now apologised “unreservedly” and admitted that the consequences of his officers’ actions “are a matter of sincere regret”.

Nick McAleenan, a Data Privacy lawyer at JMW Solicitors who represented the woman, said that her distress had been compounded by the police’s initial refusal to accept that it had done anything wrong and subsequent delays in resolving the case.

“My client has suffered psychiatric harm due to having very sensitive and personal material made public.

“She had thought that permitting the force to use details of her case – even anonymised - might help police and other agencies improve the way in which they deal with those who suffer domestic abuse.

“That what happened involved an officer assigned to support her felt, she says, like a betrayal.

“In addition to the improper disclosure, she was then made to experience unnecessary and unhelpful delays when trying to establish exactly what material Greater Manchester Police had actually presented.

“She was dragged through the litigation process and forced to undergo an interview with a psychiatrist to examine the impact of the disclosures.”

The woman agreed an out of court settlement only days before a court hearing was due to take place, just over two years since she launched her claim.

Mr McAleenan explained that she had allowed the force to use anonymised information from her case following a former boyfriend’s conviction for a catalogue of domestic abuse.

When she discovered that officers had fully identified her, she issued a claim for the misuse of private information, the breach of confidential information and non-compliance with the Data Protection Act of 1998.

The force asked that the civil action be postponed to allow an internal investigation which, five months later, concluded that no officer had infringed the police code of conduct.

In May last year, GMP finally admitted breaching the woman’s privacy but then refused to admit that she had suffered distress or loss as a result and, therefore, should not be entitled to any damages.

Mr McAleenan said: “It is disappointing that the police delayed in accepting that my client suffered serious distress and injury. This has been an aggravating factor in this case and prevented my client from moving on.

“We believe that the settlement by GMP is the biggest by the force for a case of this kind but the damages are, in a sense, unimportant. In addition, GMP has agreed to take various steps to protect my client’s information and to avoid any repetition of this incident in the future.

“My client is a successful, professional woman and is delighted to have finally brought this case to a close. She is now looking to put this matter behind her and get on with the rest of her life.”


JMW Solicitors LLP is one of the leading Manchester law firms and offers a broad range of legal services to both commercial and private clients. 

Our dedicated media and communications law team deal with a wide range of matters including data protection, privacy, harassment and defamation for both large organisations and private individuals.

Data privacy law Partner Nick McAleenan is recommended by legal directory Legal 500 2015 who describe him as “highly professional”. 

Nick has previously acted for celebrities such as Michelle Keegan and is currently representing over 5,500 individuals in a Group Litigation data leak claim against Morrisons Supermarkets.

For more press information:

Samantha Meakin

0161 828 1827


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