Watchdog apologises to ex-NatWest boss for suggesting she breached data rules over Farage bank details

The UK information regulator has apologised to the former NatWest chief executive Dame Alison Rose, who resigned after discussing the banking affairs of Nigel Farage with a journalist.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said its comments last month – in which the regulator said a NatWest employee shared information when they should not have done, and there were two privacy breaches – wrongly gave the impression it investigated the actions of Dame Alison.

“We confirm that we did not investigate Ms Rose’s actions, given that NatWest was the data controller under investigation,” the ICO said.

Instead, solely NatWest’s actions as a data controller were investigated, rather than Dame Alison, the statement said.

It added: “Our investigation did not find that Ms Rose breached data protection law and we regret that our statement gave the impression that she did…

“…we apologise to Ms Rose for suggesting that we had made a finding that she breached the UK GDPR [general data protection regulation] in respect of Mr Farage when we had not investigated her.”

In its ruling in October, the ICO said there were two privacy breaches involved in the disclosure to BBC News business editor Simon Jack.

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This enabled him to report Mr Farage no longer met the financial criteria to hold an account with Coutts, which is part of the NatWest Group.

Also included in the apology was the lack of any comment from Dame Alison. She should have been approached for comment, the ICO said.

“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.”