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Privacy breach at Hastie fire sale

Posted by: Derryn Hinch | 16 July, 2012 - 5:18 PM

Three years ago this month we broke a story about filing cabinets being dumped from the Berry Street child care facility. The cabinets were not cleared out before being sold at auction.

Personal files of troubled teenagers were tossed out.The files detailed their medical histories and criminal records plus details of abortions and drug addiction. Names, addresses, the lot. Some of the files less than six months old.

They came into my possession and I went public to try to make sure it didn’t happen again.

Well, a similar thing has happened. This time it is with the Hastie Group of companies which went into administration at the end of May. The Administrators are PPB Advisory and they are selling off office goods.

One of the companies in the group is Watters Electrical. Their office goods went up for inspection in Port Melbourne last week before being sold by GraysOnLine.

We were alerted on Friday Forum and promised to dig into it. PPB declined to come on air  but gave us a statement which said in part:  ‘We take any breach of our protocols seriously. While we are still investigating, it appears there has been an isolated breach in this case. We are taking steps to obtain further information and resolve this matter’.

Not so fast. I’m told by people I believe is that when people went to Watters Electrical to pick up the cabinets they had bought they ‘couldn’t believe their eyes’. There was stuff all over the office and the buyers just tossed aside the cabinets to empty them.

Why does that matter? Because of some of Watters clients. They wouldn’t want sensitive papers tossed around.  Watters did electrical work for the Defence Department and the prison system. Places like Sale and Marngoneet.  Did  Watters paperwork include prison lay-outs?

And how about clients like Crown Casino Security Systems And No.4 Treasury Place?  That’s the Commonwealth Government Offices. That’s where Melbourne-based Federal ministers work from when not in Canberra. And Monash Biotech.

I hear that since Friday’s program  GraysOnLine have been contacting purchasers and arranging to pick the files up. One cabinet had a towel and a singlet in it but nobody’s claimed that.

PLAY: Dean Mighell, Secretary, Electrical Trades Union

Drive with Hinch

Hinch Hinch is a former police rounds reporter, former foreign correspondent, former newspaper editor, former host of national current affairs shows, former novelist, former radio host in Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide, former MIDDAY host and former jailbird.



Blog comments Your Say

  • You whine when the shredders do their dastardly work as a company goes down, and you whine when they don't! Nobody gets paid to do the cleanup, so why should it be done by volunteers or management that have something to hide? The story is a bit dramtised isn't it - are you sure all this 'highly sensitive' stuff actually exists, or is this just somebody making a mountain out of a molehill?

    Solmon's Sword Thursday 19 July, 2012 - 4:00 AM
  • As a former Watters employee it just goes from bad to worse.... Not only did we lose our jobs and entitlements, but now we have been put at risk of identity theft with all our personal info in those cabinets. What more surprises can we expect. Thanks once again to Hastiegroup for destroying a once great company to work for.

    Lou Tuesday 17 July, 2012 - 8:30 PM

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