ICO probes Tory minister PI blagging allegations
I needed two things: a drink and a clue. I knew where to find the first...
The ICO is making enquiries into Tory justice minister Jonathan Djanogly's hiring a firm of private detectives to blag information from his own constituents.
Djanogly was exposed by the Telegraph last year for hiring the firm of private dicks. In a reversal of usual blagging exercises, they were instructed to pretend to be journalists in order to find out what constituency workers thought of the young politician.
Like most eavesdroppers, the ferret-faced MP for Huntingdon did not hear good things about himself. There was criticism of his expenses claims of £13,000 for a cleaner/au pair and a general belief that he was a poor politician.
The detectives' report quoted one constituency bigwig describing the MP as a disaster who needed to be deselected, he was also variously described as "lazy" and "dishonest".
Djanogly, who was a lawyer before entering Parliament, paid £5,000 to the firm.
A spokesman for the ICO told us: "We have received a letter from Mr Mann [Labour MP for Bassetlaw] which includes allegations against Mr Djanogly. The letter only arrived a few days ago and we are still looking at the claims. No inquiry has been launched yet."
Djanogly told the Telegraph the ICO had no role to play.
He said: "I would never have condoned anything unlawful and dishonest in the investigations, and the investigators have assured me that all of their inquiries were carried out in an entirely lawful manner." ®
Lawful, possibly. Honest? Definitely not. Misuse of public money? I reckon so.
He clearly wanted to gather this information in an unaccountable way and used dishonesty to do so. The man needs to be sacked along with the others who think it acceptable to act in this way. He should also repay the £5,000 out of his own pocket.
Did he use public money or his own money?
I'm pretty sure it must have been his own private cash, as you can bet that the Telegraph would be baying from the rooftops if they even suspected that it was public money.
If he paid them out of his own pocket, then I don't see a problem here at all.
He's welcome to waste his own money discovering what other people think about him - though the fact that he thought that knowing was worth £5000 pretty much proves that he is a bit of an idiot.
(And the price indicates that the PIs were asking a very small number of people)
Either way, he is right that this has nothing whatsoever to do with the ICO - only the Parliamentary Expenses body (if he did actually use public money) and/or the Police should have anything to say about this.
If the private dicks used unlawful methods, then that's a matter for the police, and if they used lawful methods then there's no case to answer.
Still makes the guy an idiot, but there's no actual *law* against being stupid.
He paid for the PIs, not his office, so there is nothing to repay. The story would be a lot bigger if he was using public money to hire PIs, so you can climb a little way down your high horse.
This sort of thing happens all the time anyway, just not in politics. When a FCMG company launches a product, they want to know what people think of it, but without the people thinking that they are telling the company that makes the product what they think of it. So they pretend to be someone else, doing something else, and slip in the real questions when appropriate.
Course, no-one really cares about this when its only the flavour of a new kit kat under question.