The UK's Houses of Parliament
The UK's Houses of Parliament

The British government's Home Office is facing up to a serious blunder, after accidentally publishing the personal details of 1,600 illegal immigrants living in the country.

The names, dates of birth and immigration status of 1,598 immigrants in the family returns process were detailed on the government body's website for more than two weeks (October 15 to October 28), leading to heavy criticism from government opposition. The information did not, fortunately, include personal addresses or financial information.

Immigration minister Mark Harper responded to the news via a written statement to Parliament, in which he expressed regret and insisted that measures are now in place to stop this happening again.

“Unfortunately between 15 and 28 October some personal data was available on the Home Office website as part of a spreadsheet alongside the regular data set in error,” wrote Harper.

“This was identified by Home Office officials on 28 October 2013 and the personal data was removed immediately.

Steps taken

“The department has taken steps to establish whether the data was viewed or accessed outside the Home Office. That analysis suggests that there were fewer than thirty visits to the relevant webpage. Measures have been put in place to prevent a recurrence of the error and verify that no similar error had previously taken place.”

Shadow immigration minister David Hanson responded to the news by saying that the breach showed a “staggering level of incompetence", while chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, Labour MP Keith Vaz, said that he was “appalled at this serious breach of personal data”.

This isn't the first time the UK government has been criticised in recent times; just last week it came under fire for offering 'fragmented' cyber crime policing.