Tory MP wants official email address kept private

Conservative MP Dominic Raab's email address is no longer available on the parliamentary website after a spat with lobby group 38 Degrees

Nicole Kobie
9 Aug 2010

A Conservative MP's official email has been removed from the parliamentary website, after he complained that online lobby groups were becoming a "nuisance".

MP Dominic Raab's email is currently not listed on the House of Common's website following a spat with online campaigners 38 Degrees.

The group provides a service by which people can automatically email their MP on certain issues. Raab asked the group to remove his address from its service at the beginning of July, which he provided to the lobbyists during the election.

These emails from your and other lobby groups are becoming a real nuisance

38 Degrees took down that email address, using his parliamentary one instead. Complaining that too many people were contacting him, Raab asked for that to be removed as well, warning he would take the issue to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) if 38 Degrees didn't comply.

"Please understand that MPs get a high volume of correspondence and emails," he said in an email exchange with 38 Degrees. "Just processing the emails from your website absorbs a disproportionate amount of time and effort, which we may wish to spend on higher priorities, such as helping constituents in real need or other local or Parliamentary business."

"These emails from your and other lobby groups are becoming a real nuisance," he added, saying constituents can write to him at the House of Commons or meet him at one of his surgeries.

Buy a stamp

David Babbs, executive director of 38 Degrees, said Raab was likely receiving on average fewer than two emails a day via the site, with the most recent messages concerning the alternative vote referendum.

"They're genuine emails, from genuine constituents about areas of genuine concern to them," Babbs told PC Pro. "He seems to think it's something illegitimate or something MPs shouldn't be receiving."

Most MPs recognise that it's their job to engage with their constituent

"Most MPs recognise that it's their job to engage with their constituents," he said, adding many MPs see email as a way to increase engagement in politics.

Babbs added that Raab provided his personal email address to the group during the campaign. "So it's only since he became a member of parliament with a taxpayer funded email address that he's now said he doesn't want to hear from people. When he was still asking them to vote for him, he pro-actively gave us his Yahoo email address," said Babbs.

38 Degrees did remove his personal address from their system, but Babbs noted: "It was only then it became clear that actually he felt that if you wanted to contact him you should walk to the Post Office and buy a stamp."

Work email not private

While both parties claim the ICO has come down on their side, a spokesperson assured us that work emails are not private data. "If it's used for work purposes, it isn't private," an ICO spokesman told PC Pro.

Babbs said Raab's parliamentary email remained in the 38 Degree's database, so any constituents looking to contact him can still find it via that site.

Raab didn't respond to our telephone request for comment at the time of publishing.

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