Tory peer, Lord Selsdon, faces an inquiry after bragging that he uses “friends” within DVLA to track down litterbugs.
Lord Selsdon admitted that he used personal information gained from the DVLA to contact drivers he has seen dump rubbish from their vehicles.
This practice breaches the Data Protection Act, which makes the safeguarding of personal information such as names, phone numbers and addresses mandatory in any organisation.
A DVLA Spokesperson said of the matter:
‘We are writing to Lord Selsdon to ask him for further information. Depending on his reply we will then decide on whether or not it is necessary to conduct a full investigation.
‘We take our responsibility to protect information seriously. That is why information is only provided under strict controls to those who are legally entitled to it, such as local authorities and the police.’
The comments were made during a House of Lords debate over new litter legislation.
Lord Selsdon, real name Malcolm Mitchell-Thomson and the 3rd Baron Selsdon, was quoted saying: “There is of course absolutely no connection between these two issues. But this is self-interest.
‘I find when you look at the international scene that, believe it or not, some of the most badly behaved now are British families.
‘They are the ones I’ve followed occasionally and, for a bit of fun, I’ve just taken note of their number [plate] and occasionally manage – because I have friends with the DVL[A] – to find their telephone and I give them a ring.
‘I just say, “I’m sorry I happen to be involved in the political world a bit and it was noticed that at a particular point you did this”.’
The former banker was then warned that he may have been breaking the law.
The Lord later apologised for the comments, saying suggestions that he was receiving personal information from the DVLA were “unintentional”.
‘I would like to confirm I have not, at any time, asked for or been given by the DVLA any information which is not in the public domain,’ he said.
‘In particular, I have not been given names or particulars of vehicles.
‘I much regret that my speech, without text or notes, should have given rise to press speculation to the contrary and I would like to apologise to the House.’
The matter may be subject to police inquiry if it is found that Lord Selsdon and staff at DVLA are guilty of intentionally breaking Data Protection laws.