back to article ICO probes Tory minister PI blagging allegations

The ICO is making enquiries into Tory justice minister Jonathan Djanogly's hiring a firm of private detectives to blag information from his own constituents. Djanogly was exposed by the Telegraph last year for hiring the firm of private dicks. In a reversal of usual blagging exercises, they were instructed to pretend to be …


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  1. Gert Selkobi
    Thumb Down


    Lawful, possibly. Honest? Definitely not. Misuse of public money? I reckon so.

    He clearly wanted to gather this information in an unaccountable way and used dishonesty to do so. The man needs to be sacked along with the others who think it acceptable to act in this way. He should also repay the £5,000 out of his own pocket.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      He paid for the PIs, not his office, so there is nothing to repay. The story would be a lot bigger if he was using public money to hire PIs, so you can climb a little way down your high horse.

      This sort of thing happens all the time anyway, just not in politics. When a FCMG company launches a product, they want to know what people think of it, but without the people thinking that they are telling the company that makes the product what they think of it. So they pretend to be someone else, doing something else, and slip in the real questions when appropriate.

      Course, no-one really cares about this when its only the flavour of a new kit kat under question.

    2. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Did he use public money or his own money?

      I'm pretty sure it must have been his own private cash, as you can bet that the Telegraph would be baying from the rooftops if they even suspected that it was public money.

      If he paid them out of his own pocket, then I don't see a problem here at all.

      He's welcome to waste his own money discovering what other people think about him - though the fact that he thought that knowing was worth £5000 pretty much proves that he is a bit of an idiot.

      (And the price indicates that the PIs were asking a very small number of people)

      Either way, he is right that this has nothing whatsoever to do with the ICO - only the Parliamentary Expenses body (if he did actually use public money) and/or the Police should have anything to say about this.

      If the private dicks used unlawful methods, then that's a matter for the police, and if they used lawful methods then there's no case to answer.

      Still makes the guy an idiot, but there's no actual *law* against being stupid.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    So where is this going to end. Does this mean that shops can no longer employ mystery shoppers to check how staff are serving customers. can a restaurant reviewer pretend to be a normal diner to ensure they don't get special treatment, will the C4 have to pull "Undercover Boss" from their schedules?

  3. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    Not recommended that our own clients try this

    If you phone us up and say you're not a customer but a journalist, then expect a courteous and brief dismissal.

    Say that you're a financial journalist and you might get somewhere. The likes of BBC radio's [Moneybox] has a proud record of companies they've been reporting on suddenly deciding to compensate the particular customer whose woes are the subject of the report, which may be seen as boasting, bullshitting, or just commenting that the wrongdoer hasn't necessarily changed their ways, they just want to limit bad publicity.

    But doesn't everyone know that if you speak to a journalist about their boss, colleague, or MP, the story published will allege that you slept with them - it makes the comments so much more spicy.

  4. Vic

    I wish they'd do this round my way

    I'd love for my MP to know what I think of him.

    I have written to him several times. He seems unable to parse simple sentences. After a *long* wait, I always get back some boilerplate dross almost entirely unrelated to the matter about which I had written to him.

    Twats, the lot of 'em.


  5. Bumpy Cat

    Lawful but unethical

    This is a pretty damning indictment of his character if he thinks this is at all appropriate. If he wants to know what his constituents think, he could (*gasp*) go out and talk to them. Using PIs to spy on them is creepy and pointless. This is exactly the kind of person who should be instantly flung out of any political party. That he isn't says a lot about modern politics.

  6. Whitter

    What you don't know (about what you think of me) can't harm me.

    I guess the PI's report won't be made available at the next selection meeting then?

  7. James Hughes 1

    Might be head above parapet time...

    But he was just doing a bit of market research, a bit clandestine I suppose, but if he did it personally he would have been told lies ('We love you Jonathan'), so he needed a third party that people thought was not connected to him.

    Not sure how else he could have got that honest information - and to be honest, the results were not exactly good reading for him!

    I'm not a fan of Djanogly (used to live in his constituency), but don't think this is as bad as people make out.

  8. Graham Bartlett


    Slight difference there. Shops etc are using their own money to find out how they're doing. Djanogly is using *OUR* money to find how he's doing, in his own personal interest for re-election. If he'd paid out of his own pocket, no-one would mind. And if it was checking what people thought about the council in general, no-one would mind. But this was specifically for his own benefit.

    1. James Hughes 1

      Are you sure

      he is using public money? Seems to me that he used his own cash.

    2. Tom 38

      @Graham Bartlett

      Well, he did use his own money, so no-one minds right? Oh, they still do? Oh well.

  9. Number6

    Did anything happen?

    Having discovered that his constituents had a low opinion of him, has he improved at all? If so, it was a worthwhile exercise and of benefit to the electorate.

    Meanwhile, back in the real world...

    (you need a winged pig icon)

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My my

    A Tory being creepy, who'd have thought it?

  11. druck Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    The real reason

    This had nothing to do with trying to find out opinions, the real reason he had to hire a PI was that someone was giving false stories to the press about his expense claims, and he was trying to find out who was responsible. The PI was instructed to pose as a journalist and approach staff and consistency members to see if they would leak further lies.

    It is a fair and reasonable thing to do with your own money, when someone is trying to damage your reputation by associating you with the expenses scandal for political motives. Unfortunately the Right Honourable Mr Mann (Labour) then tried to damage his reputation by associating him with the phone hacking scandal for political motives, as confirmed by the ICO.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    so he had a survey done

    Whats the problem

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