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ICO apologises to former NatWest boss Alison Rose over Farage inquiry

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The UK data watchdog has apologised to former NatWest head Dame Alison Rose for suggesting she breached privacy laws following a probe into the closure of Nigel Farage’s bank account.

Dame Alison resigned in July after admitting she had made a mistake in speaking about Mr Farage’s account.

The Information Commissioner’s Office said its comments last month suggested it had been investigating Dame Alison.

However, it said its probe was into NatWest’s actions as a data controller.

“Our comments gave the impression that we had investigated the actions of Alison Rose, the former CEO of NatWest Group. This was incorrect,” the ICO said.

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

Mr Farage, a prominent Brexiteer, said earlier this year that Coutts, the prestigious private bank for the wealthy and owned by NatWest, planned to shut down his account and that he had not been given a reason.

In July, it was reported that his account was being closed because he no longer met the wealth threshold for Coutts, citing a source familiar with the matter.

However, Mr Farage later obtained a report from the bank which indicated his political views were also considered.

The fallout led to Dame Alison resigning as NatWest’s chief executive after admitting she had made a mistake in speaking about Mr Farage’s relationship with the bank.

Mr Farage said in July he was filing a complaint with the ICO.

In its latest statement 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.

“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.”

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