Parliamentary access of porn sites blamed on inflated figures, hardware and software faults

A Freedom Of Information Request reveals nearly 300,000 attempts at accessing pornography from the Parliamentary network in the past year

Nearly 300,000 attempts at accessing websites categorised as pornography originated from computers inside Parliament. The figures were released by IT managers at Westminster in a response to a Freedom of Information request. It covers devices linked to the Parliamentary Network, including those used by MPs and peers, their staff and other employees.A spokesman for Parliament attempted to downplay the figures, suggesting real world events were inflated figures. IT managers are also reported to be investigating the reason for wide variations between the monthly figures - with as many as 114,844 in November but just 15 in February, claiming that pop-ups, auto-refresh and web-designs were the real reasons that figures appeared to vary so much. A House of Commons spokeswoman said: "We do not consider the data to provide an accurate representation of the number of purposeful requests made by network users due to the variety of ways in which websites can be designed to act, react and interact and due to the potential operation of third party software."Prime Minister David Cameron announced last month that porn sites will be filtered by major ISPs by the year 2014 under plans that require consumers to ‘opt in’. The default position will be to that content will be unavailable unless consumers choose to receive it. Online pornography was "corroding childhood" and "distorting" children's understanding of sex and relationships, he argued.

No MPs have owned up as of yet

This was because there was a "variety of ways in which websites can be designed to act, react and interact and due to the potential operation of third party software," she said.Visits to otherwise blocked adult sites "may nevertheless be recorded in this dataset depending on website design", she added.This is the latest in the long line of dubious use by public officials. Last year the Daily Mail reported more than 83,000 visits to Betfair’s online horse racing form guide. There were 4,665 visits to bookmaker Paddy Power, 3,803 to rival Ladbrokes and 4,126 to horse racing news site attheraces.com.Several MPs also appeared to make thousands of visits to their own websites each month. And up to 50,000 visits were made to the controversial adultery website Out of Town Affairs, which matches up people looking for ‘no-strings-attached fun, hot steamy action and erotic encounters’.With a ban in place on using footage of parliamentary proceedings for satire, it comes as no surprise that a website encouraging visitor to vote for “which MP they would rather have sex with” was blocked on computers in the Palace of Westminster. sexymp.co.uk has been unblocked and can be viewed currently from the Houses of Parliament.