Leicestershire health authority may face investigation by the Data Protection Registrar after allegations that a university obtained names and addresses from its confidential patient database.

Data protection officials may also launch a probe into Leicester University after it sent out a questionnaire to 250,000 people in the county using information supplied by Leicestershire HA.

The questionnaire was sent to people over 40 and is part of a£5m study into socially-disabling incontinence. The study is being funded by the Medical Research Council and the HA.

The data protection registrar has been alerted following complaints against the HA and the university from a man who received the questionnaire. The allegations are of a serious breach of the law.

Both the HA and the university deny any breach of the data protection laws. An HA statement said there had been no disclosure of confidential information to an outside organisation since the study was being run by doctors employed by them.