MP Letwin agrees to stop dumping personal data in bins


West Dorset MP Oliver Letwin has agreed to stop chucking letters and emails containing personal data on constituents in public bins.

Letwin was caught out by the Daily Mirror last month, which disclosed images of the MP disposing of letters and emails in bins across St James' Park.

Letwin is responsible for developing Government policies within the Cabinet Office.

I'm sure this case will also prompt other MPs to review their handling of personal data.

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) decided Letwin had broken the Data Protection Act, after dumping the names, addresses and contact details of around 20 individuals.

One email binned by Letwin contained information "relating to an individual's recent hospital treatment," the ICO said.

"Constituents entrust their Member of Parliament with all sorts of personal information and should never expect the details of the concerns they've raised in confidence to end up in a park bin for anyone to see. It is clear that Mr Letwin has learned from this incident and we're pleased that he has co-operated fully," said information commissioner Christopher Graham.

"It is fortunate that most of the information he discarded was not of a particularly sensitive nature and was therefore unlikely to cause substantial distress to his constituents.

"But if we receive any further reports or complaints about Mr Letwin's conduct in this area then we will consider taking more formal action. I'm sure this case will also prompt other MPs to review their handling of personal data to ensure they're doing all they can to keep it secure."

The news came just a week after business secretary Vince Cable was caught binning confidential documents outside his constituency office.

Cable didn't just shove constituents data in bins though, he chose to place letters from ministers in the trash as well.

A local resident decided to check what Cable was up to, collecting paperwork from the bins before handing it over to local newspaper the Richmond and Twickenham Times.

Cable apologised and said the ICO had been informed.

Tom Brewster

Tom Brewster is currently an associate editor at Forbes and an award-winning journalist who covers cyber security, surveillance, and privacy. Starting his career at ITPro as a staff writer and working up to a senior staff writer role, Tom has been covering the tech industry for more than ten years and is considered one of the leading journalists in his specialism.

He is a proud alum of the University of Sheffield where he secured an undergraduate degree in English Literature before undertaking a certification from General Assembly in web development.