Information commissioner to quit

Elizabeth France has announced her decision to step down as information commissioner when her contract expires in November

The information commissioner, Elizabeth France, is to quit her watchdog position later this year, following weeks of disagreement with the home secretary over his controversial anti-terror legislation.

France's decision to leave the Data Protection Agency was announced to her staff by email. After two terms in office, France will not be renewing her contract when it expires in November.

"It is the end of her term of office, and the post has to be advertised anyway," said Pat Mellor, personal assistant to the information commissioner.

Mellor denied allegations that France's resignation is linked to a row that she had with David Blunkett in December over the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Bill. France had been opposed to a voluntary code of practice contained within the Bill, which makes sweeping provisions for the retention of communications data by public communications providers for later access by law enforcement agencies. Her objections centred on concerns that the Bill could be incompatible with the Human Rights Act 1998, by interfering with a person's right to respect for private and family life.

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