SUSPENDED NIB Director Algernon Cargill has instructed his lawyer to make a formal complaint to Data Protection Commissioner George Rodgers after more of his personal information, filed at National Insurance, was leaked on the Internet over the weekend.
Anyone found guilty of breaching the Act could be fined up to $100,000.
It is now up to Commissioner Rodgers to instruct the police to conduct a forensic investigation to discover the source of the leak. According to reliable information Human Resources gave the confidential files to Sean Gibson, Minister of Labour and National Insurance. The police now have to discover how the information, which sources claim appear to have been photo-copied from the original, found its way from the Minister’s office onto the Internet.
Mr Gibson says his Ministry has already started its own investigation. The leaked documents contain the financial records, not only of Mr Cargill, but also of seven other NIB executives. They were all made public.
“We are doing an investigation in trying to determine how the information was leaked,” said Mr Gibson.
“A person’s personal information should be their personal information,” he said. They were doing an investigation because Mr Gibson thought the leak was “wrong.”
“I’m not going to be discussing anybody’s salaries in the press. I won’t do it privately and I won’t do it publicly. I will execute my duties in accordance with the National Insurance Act,” the Minister said.
This is certainly a new Mr Gibson.
His statement must have been broadcast on last night’s local news, because shortly afterwards we got a call from a disgusted Bahamian about the Minister’s “crocodile tears.”
The trouble with politicians is that they count on a citizen’s short memory. In fairness the politician has every reason to believe that a span of five years will work wonders on a gullible Bahamian. But, to count on amnesia to have taken over in a short two months, is really to insult a citizen’s intelligence. And so the call we received was from an insulted Bahamian who still vividly recalled the Abaco election and the leak of confidential NIB files. And by whom? Well, by no other than Minister Gibson, of course!
It was in October that the PLP and the FNM were in a bitter by-election struggle for the North Abaco seat, vacated by former prime minister Hubert Ingraham.
It is in that election that Mr Gibson released information from the FNM candidate’s confidential NIB files.
“Without question,” complained FNM chairman Darron Cash. “Minister Gibson used his office to obtain information that is not readily available to members of the general public. Not only did he access this information for purely political purposes, but he also chose to disclose that privileged information to the public without the consent of Greg Gomez (defeated FNM candidate) and in furtherance of no public policy objective other than to promote the political aims of the PLP candidate in North Abaco. This is highly unethical and is a clear breach of trust.
“This unethical breach and abuse of power,” Mr Cash continued, “was foreshadowed early in this administration and is not terribly surprising. In a report in The Tribune on Thursday, May 9, 2002, the newspaper noted that in announcing the appointment of the last members of his first cabinet, Prime Minister Christie said in a national address that his ministers would ‘formally adopt the strictest code of ethics in the political life of the country.’ Ministers, he said, will be considered to have ‘flagrantly breached’ the Code of Ethics if insider information is used to make speculative investments or obtain any advantage from such and, in general, are required to avoid any form of ‘ethically improper behaviour.’
The FNM chairman said following this “breach of public trust and ethics,” members of the public are left to wonder who else the “PLP Government and their political operatives are spying on.”
“O, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive…” – these words penned by Sir Walter Scott seem best to describe the unholy mess this country now finds itself in.
We can only wish the police luck in their fruitless pursuit.