Mermaids inquiry into data breach

A trans charity has apologised for accidentally making confidential emails accessible online, although there’s no evidence any damage has been done.

Mermaids supports trans children and their parents, and more than 1,000  pages of their internal emails from two years ago were accessible on the internet. They had been shared between staff and the charity’s trustees, using what they thought was a private online group.

history of attacks

The Sunday Times newspaper made the charity aware that the emails could be found, and said they could be read by anyone. The charity says they could only be reached if you used precise search terms, and to do that you would already need to be aware the information was there to be found.

The Sunday Times has a history of attacking Mermaids, and other trans organisations and people. Their reporting of the emails calls Mermaids a “sex change charity” and “controversial”.

Andrew Gilligan

controversial reporter

Names, addresses and telephone numbers are included in the emails, the reports says, along with “anguished messages from parents about their children’s suffering”.

The controversial journalist Andrew Gilligan unnecessarily makes very public those “intimate details” of “vulnerable youngsters”. 

Mermaids say “there is no evidence that any of this information was retrieved by anybody other than the Sunday Times and those service users contacted by the journalist in pursuit of their story”.

quick and decisive action

They say that when they were informed of the breach they quickly secured the emails, apologised to the families involved, and referred themselves to both the Information Commissioner’s Office and the Charity Commission.

The charity say they will appoint an independent third party to hold an inquiry, reporting to their trustees.


Picture Credits: Sunday Times front page from Sunday Times on Twitter, Mermaids logo from Mermaids, Andrew Gilligan from Wiki Commons.


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