Barnet Borough Council has made a U-turn on its decision to forbid councillors from listening in on certain debates.

The authority proposed a blanket ban on allowing councillors to sit in on committee meetings from which the press and public have been excluded.

Earlier today, the authority said the motion will help protect sensitive data under the Data Protection Act.

The Times Series contacted the Information Commissioner's Office, which earlier today said the blanket ban would have to be “justified” by the council.

Even if the rule was written into the constitution – councillors would still have been entitled to request to see any council reports by law.

The council now appears to have changed its mind and councillors will have to take a vote on whether councillors can stay during each meeting.

Leader of Barnet Council, councillor Richard Cornelius, said: “Members have a perfect right to attend all committee meetings whether the public have been excluded or not.

“It appears that for reasons of data protection that at some rare meetings it would be inappropriate for this to happen.

“Any committee faced with this situation will now have to vote to exclude non-member councillors.

“The wording proposed will be amended to reflect this.”

Labour leader Alison Moore said she was “outraged” by the decision, and it would be “detrimental” to the way councillors do their job.