Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 23 November 2014

MP defends call to clear email link

A Tory MP has asked a lobby group to remove a link to his email from their website
A Tory MP has asked a lobby group to remove a link to his email from their website

A Tory MP who asked a lobby group to remove a link to his email from their website has defended his actions, saying he has only "finite time and resources".

Dominic Raab, MP for Esher and Walton in Surrey, said campaign group 38 Degrees was encouraging readers of its website to deluge him with cloned emails by including the automated link on its site.

But the group, which campaigns on various issues including bringing in the alternative vote (AV) system to Westminster elections, insisted it was right that Mr Raab's constituents should be able to contact him as he is an MP and his email address was in the public domain.

Writing on his blog, Mr Raab said: "MPs get hundreds of emails and letters from constituents. I try to answer every one in reasonable time. But, MPs have finite time and resources, and I also want to prioritise those in the greatest need."

He said he actively encourages constituents to write to him, comment on his blog, email his association, call his office or book a surgery appointment. But he added: "All of this takes time and energy. You have to prioritise. One of the things I found as an MP, is that every lobby group puts you on their email distribution list - or an automated system that sends out cloned messages from members of the public who access it.

"I ask for my email address to be removed from such systems and encourage constituents to contact me direct. Otherwise, my email inbox gets deluged by lobby group emails, and that detracts time and effort from dealing with the many constituents who raise problems or issues."

He also criticised the group for claiming in a headline on its website that he was saying, "Don't email me... It's becoming a real nuisance." Describing it as a "total distortion" of his position, Mr Raab continued: "I just don't want 38 Degrees using my email for their mass e-lobbying campaigns - any more than I do a commercial lobby group or trade association."

But 38 Degrees said it had also spoken to the Information Commissioner and believed it was in the right to keep the link.

Mr Raab has also removed his email address from the public House of Commons internet pages.

On its website, the group added: "Dominic Raab, Conservative MP for Esher & Walton, is threatening 38 Degrees that if we don't take his email address off our 'contact your MP system' he'll report us to the Information Commissioner. When Mr Raab was an election candidate he gave out his personal email address to use. Now he's an MP, with an official parliament email address paid for by the taxpayer, he's telling us to stop people using it and making threats. No other MP anywhere in the UK has ever threatened 38 Degrees in this way."

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