HS2 company had power to discover opponents’ sexual orientation

The HS2 high-speed rail company had the power to gather personal information on people who opposed its construction including their sexual orientation, it has been revealed.

The company has been forced to withdraw a letter which allegedly stated it could gather sensitive information on anyone who opposed the plans. This included sexual orientation, mental health issues and their political views.

The non-departmental government body removed its privacy notice after the Sunday Express discovered it had the ability to access and “process personal data”.

According to the newspaper, much of the information was of a highly personal nature though HS2 insisted that no “inappropriate” information was being held.

The withdrawn notice stated the firm could collect information on staff, suppliers, complainants and litigants.

Although it claimed information would come “primarily from individuals” it added, where legal, it would also collect information from HM Revenue and Customs, law enforcement and other people associated with the individual.

A spokesman for HS2 said: “We have withdrawn the privacy notice with immediate effect. It does not reflect how we handle information.

“We will carry out an audit on data to ensure we do not hold anything inappropriate. At no point has HS2 Ltd used any information held for financial gain, and nor do we intend to.

“We only share information with suppliers that require them to carry out work on our behalf, in line with the Data Protection Act.”

Joe Rukin of Stop HS2, told the Daily Mail that HS2 was operating with an “Orwellian mentality”.

He said: “Parliamentary reports have found HS2 guilty of maladministration and a complete disregard for the public, but this news presents a new low and shows the truly Orwellian mentality of this organisation.

“With so little evidence to support HS2, it has been clear since the start that the Government has always intended to smear the public.

“We are absolutely shocked and disgusted that HS2 Ltd planned to pursue this strategy, which must have been endorsed by the government.

“We advise everyone who has been involved with HS2 to immediately request all files on them under the Data Protection Act.”