Government accused of ‘cover up’ over lost farmer tapes

The Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has been accused of a “cover up” after two back-up tapes went missing containing the banking details of around 100,000 farmers.

The tapes are said to have gone missing this spring, with Defra officials having been informed in July. The tapes were lost by contractor IBM, after sending them from a site in Reading to Newcastle. The information on the missing tapes related to cash top-up payments to farmers through the Rural Payments Agency (RPA), a Defra body.

The RPA itself was only informed about the loss in September. It is reported a meeting between Defra officials in early October concluded there was “little risk” to farmers as a result of the tapes going missing. It was therefore decided not to report the matter publicly.

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