Commissioner finds against Croydon MP for data breaches

After numerous letters and emails and being fobbed off by local Tories, DAVID WHITE took a complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office over the abuse of his personal data by Gavin Barwell MP

Gavin Barwell MP: Once again found to have broken the rules on data protection. Once again, he's escaped with a slap on the wrist

Gavin Barwell MP: Once again found to have broken the rules on data protection. Once again, he’s escaped with a slap on the wrist

Gavin Barwell MP breached the Data Protection Act earlier this year when he passed on constituents’ personal details to Boris Johnson and the Conservative party. This resulted in unsolicited political emails being sent by Johnson to people in the Croydon Central constituency.

That is the finding of the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), in response to my complaint.

Barwell has written to me and others apologising for failing to take adequate measures to ensure the security of personal data. It appears he erroneously put information which should have been on his constituency database on to the Conservative party’s database. He states he has now taken measures to ensure this does not happen in the future.

In view of Gavin’s apology, and the steps he has taken for the future, the ICO states that it will take no further regulatory action at this point.

Barwell might be thought lucky to have escaped further action by the ICO, in view of his record with regard to the Data Protection Act.

Earlier this year it was revealed he had failed to register as a data controller with the ICO for about two years after his election as an MP in 2010.

Furthermore, in February 2011, there was a complaint that Barwell had passed on to the Croydon Advertiser the views of a person, communicated to the MP in a constituency questionnaire, despite an assurance on the document that information would never be passed on.

I am more than willing to accept Gavin’s apologies with regard to the Boris emails. I wish, however, that the matter had been looked into properly by my MP and resolved at the outset. I made numerous representations to Barwell and the local Conservatives from May this year, all of which met with unsatisfactory responses or no response at all.

At one point, Barwell seriously tried to suggest that the “Back Boris” campaign had received the email addresses from… the Labour party. On another occasion, the Conservative party insisted that I pay £10 before they would investigate my complaint.

It was as a result of all this that I had to go through the formal procedures of the ICO, and only then was the apology forthcoming with the promise that the error would be corrected.

  • David White is a semi-retired solicitor who lives in Park Hill, Croydon. He is a member of the Labour party and was a councillor on Croydon Council and the Greater London Council in the 1970s
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