The privacy watchdog has apologised to former NatWest boss Dame Alison Rose for suggesting she broke privacy rules when discussing Nigel Farage with a journalist.
The Information Commissioner’s Office said that it had not investigated Dame Alison’s actions, so was wrong to say that she had breached General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Dame Alison stepped down from her role as chief executive of one of the UK’s biggest banks after admitting that she had discussed Mr Farage’s relationship with Coutts – a NatWest subsidiary – with a BBC journalist.
In the weeks preceding her conversation with the reporter, Mr Farage had been very outspoken about Coutts’s decision to close his bank account.
He claimed that the move was politically motivated.
A little under two weeks ago the ICO said that it had reviewed a complaint about how NatWest handled Mr Farage.
It found that “an individual employed by NatWest shared information when they should not have done, and that by doing so they infringed the complainant’s data protection rights”.
It added: “In view of the fact the individual in question resigned her post and the bank has commissioned its own investigation, we do not intend to take any further regulatory action at this time.”
But on Monday, the ICO said: “Our comments gave the impression that we had investigated the actions of Alison Rose, the former CEO of NatWest Group. This was incorrect.
“We confirm that we did not investigate Ms Rose’s actions, given that NatWest was the data controller under investigation.
“We accept that it would have been appropriate in the specific circumstances for us to have given Ms Rose an opportunity to comment on any findings in relation to her role and regret not doing so.
“Finally, we apologise to Ms Rose for suggesting that we had made a finding that she breached the UK GDPR in respect of Mr Farage when we had not investigated her. Our investigation did not find that Ms Rose breached data protection law and we regret that our statement gave the impression that she did.”