SNP call for probe into leak of private letter


SNP deputy leader, Keith Brown has written to Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill demanding an inquiry into a potential data breach. 

The incident arises after a letter from MSP Brown sent to Brexit Minister, Robin Walker ended up on the desk of Scottish Conservative MP, Luke Graham.

The private letter held concerns made by a constituent regarding the fallout Brexit might have on the constituent’s business which depends on workers from the EU. A phone call from Mr Graham’s office seeking clarification on the issue alerted Mr Brown to the fact that his letter had been leaked.

Following Mr Brown’s initial complaint, the Department for Exiting the EU’s permanent secretary, Clare Moriarty held an inquiry, finding that information had been disclosed by a member of staff without authorisation.

Ms Moriarty concluded that “appropriate action” had been carried out, but further details of the incident were not given.

Mr Graham said it was “standard practice” to bring a local MP into correspondence that involved their own constituency. However, Keith Brown has pushed forwards with his complaint, reaching out to Sir Mark Sedwill, amid fears that there could be far more cases of breaching confidentiality in this way.

As reported by The Scotsman, Mr Brown said:

“This is a deeply concerning incident which should never have occurred. Constituents raise concerns with their MSPs in complete confidence. It is unacceptable for strict data protection rules to be cast aside for political gain – which appears to have been the motivation here.

“While I welcome the findings of the Permanent Secretary to the Brexit department that an unauthorised disclosure did indeed take place, the case raises more questions than it answers. Just how widespread are these practices? Are Tory ministers regularly divulging confidential information to Tory MPs for political expediency?

“It demonstrates that the whole Westminster system is completely broken – and that goes right to the heart of the department that is supposed to be handling Brexit,” he added.

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