Here is the text of the story in today's Daily Mail about Lord Selsdon:
Most of us don’t have the time or the energy to reprimand anti-social drivers who drop litter out of their car windows. But it seems Tory peer Lord Selsdon has both these gifts – and good connections to boot.
In an extraordinary outburst in a House of Lords debate yesterday, the 75-year-old told colleagues how he calls his ‘friends at the DVLA’ to obtain the vehicle owner’s phone number. Lord Selsdon said he records the number plates of British cars when abroad if sees litter being dumped on the road before calling up his friends at the DVLA.
The peer claimed the DVLA would then use the details to find the telephone numbers of offenders before handing them over. But with a possible threat to data protection laws, the DVLA said it was trying to contact the hereditary peer before considering launching a full probe.
The Data Protection Act requires organisations such as the DVLA to keep the personal information they are processing secure and to have controls on making sure such information is not inappropriately accessed. But Lord Selsdon told the House of Lords that he found that British families travelling in large 4x4s to go skiing in the Alps were the most badly behaved.
The peer said: ‘I find when you look at the international scene that, believe it or not, some of the most badly behaved now are British families in large 4x4s driving to the Alps to ski.
‘They are the ones I've followed occasionally and, for a bit of fun, I've just taken note of their number and occasionally manage - because I have friends with DVL(A) - to find their telephone and I give them a ring.
‘I just say, ‘I'm sorry I happen to be involved in the political world a bit and it was noticed that at a particular point you did this”.
‘And of course most continental motorways have got signs every kilometre or every half kilometre or often more often so you know exactly where you are and so do the spies.
‘If the police themselves are deciding that they may be perhaps a little short of income for Christmas, the number of fines seems to go up.
'There is of course absolutely no connection between these two issues. But this is self-interest.’
Lord Selsdon made the surprise admission during a debate on a legislation drawn up by former journalist, Tory Lord Marlesford, which calls for anyone caught throwing rubbish out of a vehicle to be fined. Under the Littering from Vehicles Bill, a registered driver would be the automatic recipient of the fine.
The Bill, which stands little chance of becoming law, would require local authorities to publish the details of the contracts awarded in relation to its enforcement. A spokeswoman for the DVLA said: ‘We are writing to Lord Selsdon to ask him for further information.
‘Depending on his reply, we will then decide on whether or not it is necessary to conduct a full investigation.’
She said drivers were not obliged to provide their telephone numbers when applying for a licence so that in some cases the agency would not hold the details apparently requested by Lord Selsdon. The spokeswoman added: ‘We take our responsibility to protect information seriously. That is why information is only provided under strict controls to those who are legally entitled to it, such as local authorities and the police.’
A spokesman for the Information Commissioner said: ‘We expect any organisation handling personal information to have appropriate safeguards in place to ensure that access to people's details is strictly controlled.
'These arrangements must be effective in practice.’ [Daily Mail]