The personal information of all practising and some non-practising barristers stored on computers has been stolen from the Bar Council's head office, it was relevaled today.
In the early evening of Friday 12 December, a break-in occurred at the Holborn offices of the Bar Council, which also houses its regulatory arm, the Bar Standards Board (BSB).
The break-in was discovered on Saturday morning and police were at the scene on the same day. A police investigation is underway.
The Bar Council has confirmed that a laptop and four computer hard-drives were taken.
The Bar Council says that all of the data stolen is held under two or three levels of security. They claim that the data is covered by a "high level of protection and cannot be accessed readily".
The contact details and basic factual data records of all practising barristers, and some non-practising barristers are believed to have been stored on the stolen computers.
Also stolen were the names, bank account numbers and sort codes of 3,000 Bar Council Direct Debit payers.
Contact addresses of Lay members of Bar Council and Bar Standards Board committees were also stolen along with approximately 1500 original complaints records being used for new IT system testing, which includes names and contact details of the complainants, witnesses, barristers and details of the complaints.
Steps have been taken by the Bar Council to notify all relevant complainants and any others who might be affected, as well as all barristers and all Bar Council and BSB lay committee members.
The Bar Council has assured that much of this data is routinely publicised in Bar directories and on Chambers websites and that the data does not include any passwords, debit or credit card numbers, or pin numbers.
The Chief Executive of the Bar Council, David Hobart apologised for the data being stolen: "I am sorry that, as a result of this burglary, barristers and some members of the public have had data stolen from the Bar Council office in Holborn.
"At present the signs are this was a random burglary, but to be sure we will have to wait for the outcome of the police investigation.
"I want to reassure anyone who may be concerned that the stolen data is correctly and safely protected, and I am confident that no one will suffer loss as a result."
A Bar Council help line has been set up on 0207 611 1418 for anyone with specific concerns about the implications of the theft.