Was the Mermaids email breach just another transphobic media attack?

Was the Mermaids email breach just another transphobic media attack?

Mermaids CEO Susie Green | Photo: Facebook/Mermaids

Over a 1000 emails among internal staff at British trans children’s charity Mermaids UK were made public online.

The charity said it was ‘deeply sorry’ for a ‘historical data breach’.

The Sunday Times, which first reported the story, claims correspondence involved ‘intimate details’ of vulnerable youngsters.

However the 1,100 emails were only retrieved by the Sunday Times, or those contacted by the journalist.

Mermaids said it had taken immediate action and reported the breach.

Sunday Times publishes article on Mermaids email breach

The Times wrote a damning article calling Mermaids ‘controversial’ and a ‘child sex change’ charity.

The paper is currently under investigation. A trans woman has accused the paper of having a transphobic work environment and publishing misleading and biased transphobic articles.

A Mermaids UK spokesperson said the material consisted of ‘full and frank discussion of matters relevant to Mermaids, but unfortunately included some information identifying a small number of service users’.

‘[We have] contacted these people,’ they said.

‘The information, seen in its actual and proper context, is normal internal information for a group such as Mermaids.

‘The information shows Mermaids takes its responsibilities seriously and that there is candid internal consideration of all issues.

‘No evidence this information was retrieved by anybody other than the Sunday Times’ 

‘So the overall position is that there was an inadvertent breach, which has been rapidly remedied and promptly reported to the ICO, and 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.

‘Finally, Mermaids apologises for the breach. Even though we have acted promptly and thoroughly, we are sorry. At the time of 2016-2017, Mermaids was a smaller but growing organisation. Mermaids now has the internal processes and access to technical support which should mean such breaches cannot now occur.’

The charity recently received £500,000 from the National Lottery Community Fund. This grant was immediately called into question but the National Lottery found no wrong-doing.

Times Editor John Witherow, while giving evidence at an employment tribunal, denied its coverage of trans issues was biased.

He said instances of misleading articles are ‘very rare’. He also claimed the majority of the paper’s coverage was of the highest standards.

Witherow also denied there was a culture of transphobia at the newspaper.


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