Natalie Brennan, 41, could go to prison after pleading guilty to wrongful disclosure at Preston Crown Court
Her crime was to divulge information about a tax credits claim made by Mary Houghton, a former partner of Timothy Lee, Brennan’s landlord, and another man, who at the time was in a relationship with Houghton, the Lancashire Evening Post
Brennan appeared in the dock only to confirm her name and enter her guilty plea, the newspaper reported. Philip Curran, prosecuting, told the court that she helped Lee gain information that he could use to “make life difficult” for the people concerned.
“The whole thrust of this is that he was trying to find out if they were claiming separately so he could ring the authorities,” he said.
It is understood that Brennan, who worked as an administrative officer at HM Revenue & Customs’
Unicentre in Preston city centre, was asked for advice from her landlord in relation to the benefits claim of Houghton and the man, who has not been named, the Post said.
Brennan reportedly told bosses that she initially advised Lee to contact the official tax helpline. But it has since emerged she had also checked confidential information relating to the couple. She was arrested and charged with wrongful disclosure – a charge she initially denied.
However, Brennan later pleaded guilty to the offence on the day that she was due to stand trial. Lee was also questioned during the investigations but no criminal charges were brought against him.
Following her guilty plea, Brennan’s partner, Dominic Harper, said: “Natalie has never done anything wrong in her life. She has had a spotless work record with the HMRC for 13 years.”
Houghton said after the hearing: “What she did was wrong and I think that will be a warning to HMRC staff.”
An HMRC spokesman added: “HMRC expects the highest standards of behaviour from its staff and we will vigorously pursue anyone who abuses the trust that we have placed in them.”
It has been confirmed that Brennan has since been dismissed from her position and warned that she could face jail for her actions. Judge Norman Wright adjourned the case for the preparation of a pre-sentence report. Brennan will return to court on 31 May to face sentence.