Monday 9 December 2019

Foley pledges never again as Munster refer email incident to Data Protection Commission

Munster coach Anthony Foley. Picture credit: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE
Munster coach Anthony Foley. Picture credit: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

MUNSTER have engaged the Data Protection Commissioner over last week's incident when a sensitive player review document ended up in the hands of the squad by mistake.

Chief executive Garrett Fitzgerald said the province have engaged legal advice as they acknowledged that the communication was received in error by their players last Wednesday. He believes the club hierarchy have done everything in their power to limit any potential damage by their response.

Coach Anthony Foley believes the incident will have little impact on the squad ahead of the season kick-off on Friday, stressing the fact that there was no malicious intent in the circulation of the player-review document to the squad members themselves.

News of the email was first reported in the Sunday Independent last weekend and Foley said there was little he could do to stop the information leaking out.

However, he says the incident will not be repeated and will not affect squad morale.

"The first thing you [as a player] ask is 'why?' and then you make sure there's no malicious intent in it. Is this information I would have gotten anyway? The players would get this information anyway as part of our ongoing review to make us a better team, trying to make them better," Foley explained.

"That's only one aspect of the document, but you [a player] would wonder would you have seen this information. Once you're satisfied that it was human error, the information was accurate and the coaches could stand over it, I would accept it.

"In the modern day, it's seldom that things don't make the media. It was contained up to Sunday. Obviously on Saturday, there was someone ringing around the houses trying to get information from the players, which obviously isn't the way things are done, but you accept that and fight it at a later date.

"If you write things down, you have to be prepared to stand over it, be prepared that someone's going to see it, be prepared that it could make the media. We understand that in this game.

"This is an ongoing rolling document, so it's already obsolete. We sit around, we talk about our players and their performance on a given date. We try to point out players' strengths and weaknesses. It's something that is standard practice.

"It's unfortunate that it's out in the public domain, something that we do behind closed doors to make us better. We're not going to change in terms of how we do our business, but there certainly are procedures in place in terms of how we send documents.

"It will never, ever happen again."

Fitzgerald clarified the timing of events and believes the province have done everything possible to address the issue.

"There was an accidental dispatch of an email on Wednesday the 27th," he said.

"Within in a very short space of time, all the recipients were notified - I think within an hour - and every effort, as would be normal, was made to retrieve the data on the email.

"Following that, there was a full review of what happened and we're completely satisfied it was a human error, and we have taken all the steps necessary to address the issue and to make sure it doesn't happen again.

"The key thing is that it is a data protection issue and, with proper legal advice from our solicitors Ronan Daly Jermyn, we did notify the office of the data commissioner, as is the correct thing to do. They came back to us and confirmed that they were happy that we met all the criteria in how we managed what actually happened and what we have done with it.

"They've registered the letter and accepted it and they don't intend to take any further action on it at this point in time.

"For us as an organisation, confidentiality is a very serious thing in this business, a people business. We fully comply with all employment law, so we take confidentiality seriously and I suppose the focus is on us moving forward positively. We have taken all the correct legal and professional steps to handle it correctly.

"It is a simple, rolling document that is updated from time to time and the information is usually dealt with between the individual and coaching staff. I don't see it as a funny issue."

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