UK data watchdog 'assessing' report hospital staffer tried to access Princess Kate's medical records

ByMax Foster, Pauline Lockwood and Niamh Kennedy, CNN, CNNWire
Wednesday, March 20, 2024
Investigation into breach of Princess Kate's medical records
The UK's independent regulator for Data Protection and Freedom of Information confirmed it had received a breach report and are assessing.

LONDON -- The United Kingdom's data watchdog is "assessing" reports that a staff member at a London hospital allegedly tried to access the private medical records of Catherine, Princess of Wales during her stay in January.

The Daily Mirror tabloid reports The London Clinic hospital, where the Princess of Wales spent 13 nights after planned abdominal surgery in January, had launched a probe into the allegations that her confidentiality had been breached.

In a written statement to CNN, the UK's Information Commissioner's Office, which is the UK's independent regulator for Data Protection and Freedom of Information, confirmed it had "received a breach report and are assessing the information provided."

The London Clinic has not yet responded to CNN queries on the matter, but in a statement to the Daily Mirror, said it refused to comment on the alleged breach.

"We firmly believe that all our patients, no matter their status, deserve total privacy and confidentiality regarding their medical information," the hospital said.

Citing an unnamed source from the hospital, The Daily Mirror reports "at least one member of staff was said to have been caught trying to access the 42-year-old's notes" and that the whole medical staff have been left utterly shocked and distraught over the allegations."

Hospital staff alerted the palace immediately after discovering the alleged attempt and promised to carry out a full investigation, the Mirror adds.

When asked by CNN, Kensington Palace said, "This is a matter for The London Clinic."

Health Minister Maria Caulfield said police had been asked to look into the matter.

"Whether they take action is a matter for them," she told LBC radio.

"But the Information Commissioner can also take prosecutions," she added. "So there are particularly hefty implications if you are looking at notes for medical records that you should not be looking at."

The princess, known as Kate, has been at the center of intense speculation in the UK since Kensington Palace announced she had undergone a planned abdominal surgery without giving specific details in January. No further information has been revealed leading to intense speculation and scrutiny regarding the royal family.

On Tuesday, another UK newspaper, The Sun, published a video - taken by a member of the public - showing a smiling Kate walking in a garden centre alongside her husband, Prince William.

Speculation and conspiracies grew on social media platforms after a photo released on Mother's Day showing the smiling princess and her children had been digitally edited. The Palace released a statement at the time, saying Kate had experimented with editing software and apologized for the confusion caused.

RELATED: Princess Kate responds to photoshopped image after photo redacted by news agencies

Since then more photos, believed to have been edited, have come under scrutiny by news and photo organizations.

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The Associated Press contributed to this post.