By a Newsnet reporter
Better Together head, Alistair Darling is being called on to clarify whether data, gathered illegally by the anti-independence campaign, will be destroyed.
Following the relevation that the No to independence “Better Together” campaign has committed a “criminal offence” by collecting data since its launch in June without being registered with the Information Commissioner, the Scottish National Party has written to Mr Darling, calling on him to confirm that personal information it holds on thousands of voters will be disposed of.

There are concerns that the data may have already been shared with the Tory, Labour and Lib Dem anti-independence parties who make up the Better Together alliance.  Any breaches of data protection laws could theoretically result in the prosecution of its Directors – including former Chancellor Alistair Darling – who bear personal responsibility for ensuring that the organisation operates within the law.

The UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) commented: “It may be sloppy paperwork but it’s still a criminal offence.

“It’s a criminal offence not to notify the ICO. They [the anti-independence campaign] contacted us on July 30, confirming they needed to notify.  They were sent out a pack.  They need to fill in those forms and get them back to us as soon as possible.  It’s a criminal offence.  They should have notified. They haven’t done so, so far.”

Following the report in the Sunday Herald and again in today’s media, SNP Chief Whip Bill Kidd MSP has now written to Mr Darling urging him to clarify what has happened to the data.

Mr Kidd said:

“As the chairman and a director of the No campaign, Alistair Darling, along with its other board members, bears personal responsibility for the anti-independence organisation’s failure to comply with data protection law.

“The data – which may well have been shared with the Tory, Labour and Lib Dem parties – has been collected illegally, and therefore it should be destroyed.  This revelation is hugely damaging to the integrity of the No campaign, and they must destroy this illegal data if they are to have any credibility.

“I have written to Mr Darling asking him to confirm that Better Together will destroy all of the data that has been gathering unlawfully since June.

“As the Information Commissioner has made clear, this is a criminal offence – whether due to staggering complacency or incompetence.

“The No campaign has been engaged in illegal activity since its launch.  If it can’t run a campaign without breaking the law, how on earth will people trust them and take them seriously on the issue of Scotland’s constitutional future?

“And the three anti-independence parties have serious questions to answer about how they have found themselves in the position of ganging up together in an organisation which has been caught operating outside the law.”


2012-09-24 19:09

Alistair Darling’s launch speech is posted on their website dated June 26 2012, so am guessing that this entity was created sometime in June, possibly even earlier.

So why did they even wait until July 30 before requesting an information pack? Even if the registration had been completed (which is what a spokesman claims on the Herald website), then does this also mean that any personal information gathered prior to July 30th was obtained illegally?
2012-09-24 21:35

Better Together 2012 Ltd (sc425421) was incorporated on the 1st June 2012. Check it out for yourself on website.…/…
2012-09-24 22:10

Their incorporation date is irrelevant as far as the DPA is concerned. The only date which matters is the one on which they began storing or processing relevant data.

2012-09-24 20:12

Who’d have thought it? The anti independence campaign is being run by a criminal organisation. You really couldn’t have scripted this.
2012-09-24 20:14

how can we expect the no campaign to be anything other than under handed, deceitful, and down right desperate, they have no positive case for the union, therefore no chance of persuading us that we should remain, there only hope is to undermine the fine work by the SG, and the positive case for Independence, (which is always presented in an honest, unbiased and unassuming manner), with their repeated claims and scare stories which are proved time and time again to be unfounded, unbalanced, and inevitably untrue, it is down to the good people of Scotland to communicate the wish of the people to be Independent by any legal means possible, as it has been repeatedly proven that the mainstream media are too biased to be trusted, and are incapable of truthful honest debate for fear of there loss of face with the anti’s, I would think that they may think twice if their sales revenue was to drop dramatically, I myself refuse to buy any newspaper other than our local one, because I know that there is only ever going to be a one sided perspective from the vast majority of the media, and the so called “Scottish” press has little or no right to call itself Scottish, as it is anything but.

I must apologize for my rant being my first contribution on this site, I have been reading here for a few months now, and have been hoping for some form of balanced reporting from the mainstream, but I was going a bit blue!! and have enough trouble breathing at the best of times
border reiver
2012-09-24 20:27

If its been illegally obtained can individuals who are on the list not insist that the information is removed? Scottish Borders Council has just been fined £250,000 by the information commissioner when data was found in a supermarket skip, what punishment will Better Together face or will it be brushed under the carpet?
2012-09-24 20:48

If this is indeed a criminal act, then they should be charged, end of!
2012-09-24 20:57

Who cares.
This sort of nit-picking is of no interest to me. It’s what unionists do.
We’ve got a bigger story to tell.
Dave McEwan Hill
Mark MacLachlan
2012-09-24 21:56

Yet Scots will still vote for them, why?…/…
J Wil
2012-09-24 22:06

Surely it is the job of the Information Commissioner to ask who is holding copies of the data and to insist that it is destroyed. The Unionists may be minded to ignore the SNP but they cannot ignore the IC.

Also, there should be no further point scoring from politicians or the media based on data which has been obtained illegally.
Mad Jock McMad
2012-09-24 22:57

The UK Information Comissioner’s average fine requested for a criminal breach of the Data Protection Act is around £70K

In Law they can ask for a maximum fine of £500,000, the commissioners can also request imprisonment where the data stored has been handed to third parties, misused or abused for purposes other than registered for in their initial licence. Scottish Borders Council just got a £120K bust for throwing protected information away into a skip. I look forward with interest to see what size of fine will hit the Glasgow Council / S4G ALEO when the loss of all those Glasgow Council lap tops comes to court. Under the Glasgow Council DP protocol all those lap tops had to be protected. According to the Herald few were and many still in council use are not yet protected as per the protocol stated to the UK Information Commissioners. That, as I used to say when in the system audit trade, is a major non compliance: liable to a fine and criminal record for Glasgow Council’s Data Protecion Officer and the councilor responsible stated on the licence.

A minor non-compliance would be where you have changed your data protection protocol but failed to inform the Information Commissioners (IC) of the change, as long as your overall new structure has remained ‘robust’ in protecting your data base, in other words poor house keeping. You can not change the way you use your database information without applying to the IC for a change of registration conditions and having the new use approved by the IC and a new certificate issued with the altered scope on it.

Collecting data without a licence is also a major non compliance with respect to the Data Protection Act – I wonder if the Information Commissioners will be lent on to give Bitter Together a slap on the wrists, I will be surprised if they are not heavily lent on, after all Westminster is their boss.
Edna Caine
2012-09-24 23:02

You’ve got to hand it to these Belters Together lot. What a strategic coup to increase support for their lonely cause!

Thousands will now be rushing to register their details with them in the expectation of a large financial pay-out in compensation for misuse of their personal data.

I am trying to at this moment but cannot find them via my search engine. All I get is some singer called Jack Johnson or an American site that I can’t understand. Ah, maybe that’s it.

[Actually, Johnson’s song isn’t at all bad but it is certainly not about the past. It’s about looking forward to a happy future. “Our dreams, and they are made out of real things”] –…/
Marga B
2012-09-24 23:32

OT, but don’t forget The Cause, excellent 1st episode of the story of the SNP, available for 7 days on the BBC Radio 4 web site:…/b01mwwjx

Is anyone going to record it and keep it? It’s seems a good introduction, could come in useful.
J Wil
2012-09-25 00:19

I think this deserves another Leveson enquiry.

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