I would like apologise to my constituents, colleagues and others with whom I exchange letters for the mishandling of documents at my constituency office which has resulted in personal details getting into the public domain.
I was first alerted to the breach on 2nd November. The Richmond and Twickenham Times contacted a member of my staff to confirm that the newspaper had been given documents containing the personal details of some of my constituents obtained from transparent recycling bags outside my office in Twickenham.
I was informed that a local resident had been able to procure the documents over a nine month period from February 2011 searching through the recycling bags left outside my office on Monday evenings for collection on Tuesday mornings.
This is clearly an unacceptable breach of privacy and as soon as I heard what had happened I instructed my office to introduce a stronger system for handling delicate information. There was a system in place to send confidential
information to a company specialising in the recycling of sensitive documents. Those documents that have got into the public domain should have been dealt with in the same way. The staff responsible fully accept that this was an inappropriate way to handle such paperwork; and that this was a serious error.
I am disappointed that someone went through the office recycling then hoarded the confidential and sensitive paperwork for some months rather than alerting me or a member of my staff.
However, this happened at my office and I therefore take full responsibility for the unacceptable breaches of my constituents' privacy.
Both I and my constituency team are dedicated to meeting the highest standards for the people of Twickenham. I am sorry that in this instance they were not met