MP ‘likely breached’ Data Protection Act over sharing UKIP councillor’s Lancing Beach Green survey remarks

Tim Loughton MP was among those who attended the event
Tim Loughton MP was among those who attended the event

An MP ‘likely’ breached the Data Protection Act after sharing a UKIP councillor’s survey remarks with Lancing Parish Council.

Parish council chairman Gloria Eveleigh complained to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) over the conduct of East Worthing and Shoreham MP Tim Loughton.

It followed her comments as part of a survey launched by the MP in relation to antisocial behaviour on Lancing Beach Green, which were later shared with parish councillors.

Mr Loughton, who claimed the UKIP councillor’s survey results had contained ‘gratuitous abuse’, said he had received nothing from the ICO informing him of the complaint – or result.

An ICO case officer wrote: “In this case, it seems unlikely that an individual would expect their response to a survey to be shared in a manner in which they were identifiable.

“Further, we note that the procedure for an MP to raise a complaint about a councillor would not ordinarily involve sending the complaint to all councillors.

“In light of the above, and from the information provided, it appears likely that the MP has breached the Data Protection Act under the first data protection principle.”

The letter said the organisation had written to Mr Loughton advising him to review his data protection practices.

It confirmed no action would be taken – but the details of the complaint would lie on file.

In response, Mr Loughton said: “I have today contacted the ICO urgently requesting details of exactly what is the basis of the complaint and what material councillor Eveleigh has provided as well as making my own complaint as to the basis on which they can make a judgement without even notifying the person accused let alone seeking clarification.

“I take the requirements of data protection very seriously and despite dealing with hundreds of emails and letters every day I have never had any complaint against me requiring any action upheld by the ICO.”

Mr Loughton challenged Ms Eveleigh to publish the full record of what she said in the survey and ‘let local people judge whether she is remotely fit to serve in a position of public office’.

In light of the disclosure of her information to third parties, Ms Eveleigh said the MP ‘cannot be trusted’ and advised others not to complete such a survey unless they wanted to risk their comments being made public.