There was a curious moment yesterday in the House of Lords when a peer apologised for ‘unintentionally’ suggested the DVLA committed breaches of data protection laws.
It all started on Friday when the Conservative peer Lord Selson arose to bemoan ‘badly behaved’ British families going off to the Alps in 4x4 on skiing trips throwing rubbish from their windows. He told the House:
‘There are the ones I’ve followed occasionally and, for a bit of fun, I’ve just taken note of their number and occasionally managed – because I have friends with the DVLA – 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”.’
So rather extraordinarily, the noble lord has claimed he trails people, gets their numberplates, calls his mates at the DVLA who promptly hand over personal details just so he can make pestering, menacing calls to the no doubt unpleasant people who fling litter from their windows.
Understandably, the DVLA was a bit concerned it had been linked to such illegal activity so it wrote to Lord Selson ‘to ask for further information’. A spokeswoman added; ‘Depending on his reply, we will then decide on whether or not it is necessary to conduct a full investigation.’
But, now there is no need, because the honourable lord had made it all up. Yesterday, he made this ‘clarification’:
‘In my speech on the second reading of the Littering from Vehicles Bill on Friday, I unintentionally suggested that I might have been provided with the personal data of motorists by the DVLA.
‘I would like to confirm that I have not at any time asked for, or been given from the DVLA, any information which is not in the public domain.
‘In particular, I have not been given names of keepers of vehicles. I much regret that my speech, made without text or notes, should have given rise to press speculation to the contrary and I would like to apologise to the House.’
He noticeably didn’t say he lied, as that would be unparliamentary behaviour, only that they were ‘unintentional’. But obviously someone is lying. Either the lord, in a fit of vanity, shabbily made it all up to boost his ego, or the DVLA has got away with pretty wretched illegality. My money is on the former.