RULING councillors have responded to comments about the use of personal email addresses for council business, saying no rules have been broken.

The matter was first raised at the full Isle of Wight Council meeting last week, when Cllr Joe Robertson asked if it was sensible for the leader of the council to use a personal email address, instead of an official Isle of Wight Council address, due to the large workload.

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Robertson said it was not a personal attack on the leader but felt it was 'risky' to the whole council that private email accounts were being used by other members of the Alliance group, including cabinet members.

Cllr Robertson questioned the safety of the emails as they do not go through the council's security or firewalls. He also believed this may make it harder to manage Freedom of Information Requests.

The Alliance Group however has said although there are some rules about the matter it is generally down to personal discretion or convenience over which email is used.

The key rule, however, they said, was that council emails must not be used for political matters.

An Alliance spokesperson said it was clear no rules had been broken and it was 'just a case of a publicity-seeking councillor looking for an argument.'

They also suggested it was 'ironic' if Cllr Robertson was raising points on behalf of the Conservative political party, as he is a member of group who "when in power, massively restricted the flow of information, made decisions in secret and restricted engagement across the board both with other councillors and the public."

The Isle of Wight Council said it could not require councillors to use a particular email address but following their election, councillors were advised of things to consider in the management of emails and data.

ICT devices and equipment was also provided to all councillors, a spokesperson said, to make it easier to support councillors in their role.

The Information Commissioner's Office said relevant information in private correspondence of public authorities should be available and included in responses to information requests the authority receives.

The ICO recently updated its guidance on the matter following recent national events, which saw members of parliament, including former health secretary Matt Hancock, use personal email accounts to conduct government business.

The guidance also now covers other private channels of communication when they are used for official business, including WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.