Watchdog reprimanded for revealing MP’s notes

THE Commons expenses watchdog has been reprimanded by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for publicly releasing a Conservative MP’s personal notes.

Lincoln MP Karl McCartney complained to the ICO after notes he added to expenses claims, in which he told one official they were “talking ****’’ and called another a ‘’pedantic SOAB’’, were published by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) on its website.

Mr McCartney wrote to the ICO to argue this was an unauthorised disclosure of his personal data by Ipsa.

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He also raised concerns that his personal data was disclosed by Ipsa to the Conservative Party’s Chief Whip, Sir George Young.

Ipsa published the letter after Mr McCartney made allegations against the watchdog during a House of Commons speech in February as it believed the MP’s public accusations could not be left unanswered, according to ICO paperwork.

The Tory MP used parliamentary privilege to claim Ipsa’s senior management used “bullying tactics and threats” to try to silence his protestations that it cost £10,000 a year to process each MP’s expenses claim. The Conservative also suggested Ipsa chief executive Andrew McDonald had tried to smear the names of MPs by spreading ‘’false innuendo and subterfuge’’ – allegations denied by Mr McDonald.

Ipsa responded by sending a letter to Mr McCartney which rebuked him for writing “abusive, offensive and condescending” messages to staff. The MP’s notes included, “You’re talking ****”, “You are a pedantic SOAB (son of a bitch), aren’t you?”, and “Simples – or didn’t you do Geography at Eton and Oxford”.

This letter was also published on the Ipsa website.

Ipsa also acknowledged it had raised the matter with the Tory Chief Whip in attempt to change Mr McCartney’s behaviour towards its junior members of staff, the ICO’s summary of the case states.