Apology: Former Natwest boss Alison Rose
The UK’s data watchdog has apologized to former NatWest boss Alison Rose after admitting it was “wrong” to imply she breached data protection laws by discussing details of the bank’s relationship with Nigel Farage.
Last month, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) appeared to suggest in a report that Rose broke the rules by confirming to a BBC journalist that former UK leader Farage had accounts at Coutts, the banking arm NatWest private.
But the regulator said two days later that it would review its conclusions “as a matter of urgency.”
The watchdog acknowledged it “failed to investigate a complaint against Ms Rose” and did not give her the opportunity to comment on the ruling.
This was followed by a humiliating admission yesterday when the ICO said it was “incorrect” to have suggested the former banking boss had breached data protection rules.
A spokesperson stressed that their investigation had focused solely on NatWest itself as a “data controller”.
In a statement, the ICO said: ‘Our comments gave the impression that we had investigated the actions of Alison Rose, former chief executive of NatWest Group. This was incorrect.
‘We confirm that we did not investigate Ms Rose’s actions as NatWest was the data controller under investigation.
Our investigation did not find that Ms Rose breached data protection law and we regret that our statement gave the impression that this was the case.’
The admission is a boost for Rose, who resigned in July in the wake of the scandal.
The 54-year-old is awaiting a decision from NatWest’s board on whether to retain part of her £10m pay package, which includes share awards and bonuses.
Victoria Scholar, an analyst at Interactive Investor, said: “While the Farage debanking row caused significant damage to the bank’s former chief executive and cost Rose his job, the latest twist in the saga could help her financially. potentially saving her on at least part of her £10m pay package.
“The ICO said its investigation did not find that she breached data protection law, a factor that is likely to be taken into account when it comes to her remuneration.”
A spokesman for Rose declined to comment yesterday.