SNP PARLIAMENTARY CANDIDATE Richard Lochhead has come under increased pressure after Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said she will take action over a leaked email.
A Sunday newspaper followed up reports last week that the email sent by Miss Dugdale to Mr Lochhead in 2003 had been leaked to a national daily – however, insideMoray believes that his Moray parliamentary office staff are in the clear.
In the email Miss Dugdale, then preparing to study for a master’s degree in politics, enquired to the SNP seeking a work experience position. It was revealed that Mr Lochhead was the MSP approached – at the time he was a North East Regional MSP having been first elected in 1999.
It was only later – several years after the time when Miss Dugdale sent her email – that he became the Moray constituency MSP following the death of Margaret Ewing, so any email sent by Miss Dugdale to Mr Lochhead in 2003 would have gone to his constituency office at that time in Inverurie, rather than his current office in Elgin.
In their interview with Miss Dugdale the Mail on Sunday said that she was considering pushing for action to be taken against Mr Lochhead – but would not make any formal complaint until after the May 5 election was over.
She said: “He is ultimately and legally responsible – data protection law says that he is responsible, so if I was him I would be very worried. It does not matter if he was not the one that handed it to a journalist if that is what he is trying to use as a defence, he is responsible for all the data relating to his constituents.
“He has been an MSP since 1999 – how many people in the north-east have gone to him for help over these 17 years and how many are worrying about how safe that data is?”
A separate complaint over the issue has already been lodged by the Scottish Liberal Democrats to the Scottish Information Commissioner’s Office, who confirmed at the weekend that they will investigate the matter.
Last week the SNP insisted that they took their legal responsibilities over data protection “very seriously” and insisted that no documents of any kind had ever been given to any outside organisations.
It is standard practice for an MSP’s constituency and parliamentary staff to screen his email account on his behalf, however, it would be unusual for emails to be kept for such a long period of time as part of the Data Protection Act requires information is kept only as long as it remains relevant.