THE software firm which ran the local council election count in Scotland and is involved in the General Election poll was responsible for leaks of private electoral details to credit agencies.

The Sunday Herald can reveal that the Information Commissioner warned local authorities three years ago that a software glitch in Idox data systems meant information may have been illegally sold to junk mail firms.

At least 90 councils in England and Wales were affected by the problem – around one in four of the total.Those affected were members of the public who explicitly told their councils not to pass on their personal data, including their name and address, when signing the electoral roll.

But their wishes were not observed when the full register was transferred to credit reference agencies, which can sell it on to direct marketing firms.

Idox has links to the Conservative Party. Former Tory Cabinet minister Peter Lilley, a director, was paid £4.30 a minute last year for his role on the board. Lilley, who served as trade and industry secretary from July 1990 to April 1992, has been a paid non-executive director for 15 years and holds 533,000 shares in the company, through a self-invested pension plan and through various members of his family.

The former social security secretary is chairman of Idox’s nomination and remuneration committee which makes recommendations over how much executives are paid.

Idox’s biggest single shareholder, with 16.29 per cent of the company, is Liontrust Asset Management. Sir John Beckwith, uncle of celebrity socialite Tamara, and one of the Conservative Party’s biggest donors, was a founder of LAM.

During the local council elections in Scotland, IT systems and staff provided by Idox were exclusively used for the electronic counts.

There is no allegation of inaccuracy in the counts, but political sensitivities in Scotland have been raised after the Conservatives more than doubled their share of Scottish local council seats to 276, surprising political analysts by ending decades of Labour rule in the traditional socialist heartland of Glasgow.

The contract for providing the electronic vote counting system was worth £6.5 million to Montreal-based CGI and Idox, with an aim to cut the time it takes to count single transferable votes for 1,200 councillors in more than 350 wards across Scotland.

The Sunday Herald can reveal that Idox’s postal vote management systems will also be widely used in next month’s General Election with counts covering Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stirling, South

Lanarkshire and Ayrshire, among others. Around 20 per cent of the total votes are postal.

Glasgow City Council has even supported Idox in a special promotional video, featuring the use of its systems in the Brexit referendum. A video advertisement titled Glasgow City Council Votes for Idox, produced last year, uses footage of the EU referendum count using the company’s software, products and staff.

In the wake of its investigation the Information Commissioner, the national data protection watchdog, felt formal action against affected local authorities would be “disproportionate” and that it was a problem with an Idox platform used to host electoral roll data. It instead urged them to be more careful and to work with Idox to “prevent a repeat of the problem”.

The Sunday Herald revealed concerns were sent to the Electoral Commission last year over how Idox has been delivering e-systems for elections across the UK while Lilley was a member of the board.

Hundreds have now signed a petition calling for the company to be banned from involvement in the General Election in the wake of their local government involvement. Objectors have raised further concerns about awarding contracts to Idox, with links to one political party, and about the ‘creeping privatisation’ of elections.

One campaigner, said: “No corporation with a vested interest should be able to touch any vote.”

At Glasgow City Council, a spokesman said: “Both The council and the returning officer’s staff follow robust, nationally-agreed processes to deliver safe and secure elections. Any contractors are engaged in line with procurement legislation.”

A Scottish Government spokesman added: “The IT system being used has been thoroughly tested by representatives from the Scottish Government, local councils and the Electoral Management Board for Scotland, and is independently verified to confirm that the software is being applied correctly.”

Idox declined to comment.