Darling urged to say whether illegally harvested data will be destroyed

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  By a Newsnet reporter
 
Better Together head, Alistair Darling is being called on to clarify whether data, gathered illegally by the anti-independence campaign, will be destroyed.
 
Following the relevation that the No to independence “Better Together” campaign has committed a “criminal offence” by collecting data since its launch in June without being registered with the Information Commissioner, the Scottish National Party has written to Mr Darling, calling on him to confirm that personal information it holds on thousands of voters will be disposed of.

There are concerns that the data may have already been shared with the Tory, Labour and Lib Dem anti-independence parties who make up the Better Together alliance.  Any breaches of data protection laws could theoretically result in the prosecution of its Directors – including former Chancellor Alistair Darling – who bear personal responsibility for ensuring that the organisation operates within the law.

The UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) commented: “It may be sloppy paperwork but it’s still a criminal offence.

“It’s a criminal offence not to notify the ICO. They [the anti-independence campaign] contacted us on July 30, confirming they needed to notify.  They were sent out a pack.  They need to fill in those forms and get them back to us as soon as possible.  It’s a criminal offence.  They should have notified. They haven’t done so, so far.”

Following the report in the Sunday Herald and again in today’s media, SNP Chief Whip Bill Kidd MSP has now written to Mr Darling urging him to clarify what has happened to the data.

Mr Kidd said:

“As the chairman and a director of the No campaign, Alistair Darling, along with its other board members, bears personal responsibility for the anti-independence organisation’s failure to comply with data protection law.

“The data – which may well have been shared with the Tory, Labour and Lib Dem parties – has been collected illegally, and therefore it should be destroyed.  This revelation is hugely damaging to the integrity of the No campaign, and they must destroy this illegal data if they are to have any credibility.

“I have written to Mr Darling asking him to confirm that Better Together will destroy all of the data that has been gathering unlawfully since June.

“As the Information Commissioner has made clear, this is a criminal offence – whether due to staggering complacency or incompetence.

“The No campaign has been engaged in illegal activity since its launch.  If it can’t run a campaign without breaking the law, how on earth will people trust them and take them seriously on the issue of Scotland’s constitutional future?

“And the three anti-independence parties have serious questions to answer about how they have found themselves in the position of ganging up together in an organisation which has been caught operating outside the law.”