High Court hears Cork woman reject Grant Thornton claims about confidential information

High Court hears Cork woman reject Grant Thornton claims about confidential information

A Cork woman has rejected claims by accountancy firm Grant Thornton she disseminated or has retained any confidential material contained on a computer disk mistakenly sent by the firm to her.

Gerardine Scanlon from Mallow said some "fairly scandalous" comments about her were made on behalf of Grant Thornton, including claims she demanded €1m to make the case go away and had breached court orders.

She sees herself as a "whistle blower" in respect of a data breach by Grant Thornton, she told Mr Justice Paul Gilligan.

She was making submissions on the second day of a hearing of pretrial motions in proceedings against her by the firm.

Grant Thornton accepts it mistakenly sent data to Ms Scanlon in September 2015, including deeds of appointment of receivers to properties of borrowers unconnected to her.

When a partner in the firm was appointed receiver over some of Ms Scanlon's assets in 2013, she requested information relating to her own case.

After being sent a disk containing her own details and information concerning many other files, she informed Grant Thornton of the error.

After she allegedly refused to confirm she would return the information and delete or destroy any copies held by her, the firm got injunctions preventing her releasing confidential information. The injunction proceedings were resolved in December 2015 when she agreed before the High Court to hand over the information.

The company claims she has not complied with that order and has retained confidential data.

Representing herself Ms Scanlan, Bruhenny, Churchtown, Mallow, Co Cork, said she was not acting as some sort of "watchdog" as alleged by Grant Thornton and regards herself as a whistle blower.

The company has not complied with its data protection obligations and she had evidence of another breach by the company in 2013, she said.

The company, represented by Maurice Collins SC and Joe Jeffers BL, says it informed the Data Protection Commissioner of the breach and it has complied with all directions issued by the commissioner in relation to the matter.

In its motion, Grant Thornton wants Ms Scanlon's defence and counterclaim to its action against her struck out on grounds including they are bound to fail and disclose no cause of action.

Mr Collins said the issues in the case are simple ones, such as for return of all the data and restraining dissemination of that. While the motion sought the defence to be struck out, his side would be satisfied if parts were removed or amended.

Ms Scanlon has opposed that application, although she accepts her defence may have to be altered. She said she believes the case is complex but it raises public interest issues.

In her motion, Ms Scanlon wants other parties, including Danske Bank, which appointed the receiver over her assets, the Data Protection Commissioner and Attorney General joined to the action. Those parties oppose being joined.

Mr Justice Gilligan will give his decision in a few weeks.


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