The Wikipedia pages of U.K. lawmakers had details about expense claims and a sex scandal, among other controversies, removed using computers inside the British Parliament, according to a report on Tuesday. The deletions were reportedly made just before the general election earlier in the month.
Information about a police arrest, allegations of electoral fraud and the use of “chauffeur-driven cars” were removed from the lawmakers’ pages, the Telegraph reported.
The online encyclopedia can be freely edited, but all changes to the website are recorded and tracked by IP address, allowing the location of the computers to be checked. The Telegraph found that persistent changes to the biographies of the members of parliament were made from computers inside the Commons, in what appeared to be a deliberate attempt to cover up embarrassing information ahead of the U.K. general elections.
In one instance, an edit on MP Stephen Hammond’s use of “chauffeur-driven cars” was restored by Wikipedia's page editor after being removed using computers inside the parliament last October. “Revert edit from UK Parliament,” the page’s editor wrote.
References to expenditures on house renovation paid with tax money, extramarital affairs, alleged assault and criticism from local newspapers were all removed from the pages of MPs from both the Conservative and Labour parties.
The investigation also found that the pages of other lawmakers were enhanced with positive newspaper articles that cited political awards and accomplishments, and “Rht Hn” (Right Honorable) had been added before their names. In one case, a Tory MP’s biography was enhanced with a 121-word section on his contribution to improving local broadband connections.
The issue of British politicians amending their Wikipedia pages has been in the news before. In 2012, an investigation by the Independent found that MPs and their staff members were responsible for almost 10,000 edits to Wikipedia, with nearly one in six politicians amending their pages from inside the parliament.