HOUSEHOLDERS in Cardiff Bay were spied on by security guards using the National Assembly’s high-powered cameras.
Five guards were caught using closed-circuit cameras to watch people in their homes and hotel rooms.
But none of the security guards – who are employed by the National Assembly – was fired.
The Assembly initially refused to comment on the scandal when the Echo was tipped off.
But under Freedom of Information laws, it was forced to confirm the five had been caught “turning the cameras towards private dwellings”.
It said they had received disciplinary penalties for “misusing CCTV equipment” by “failing to focus on the security of the estate”.
The penalties included formal warnings plus “amendments to terms and conditions and exclusion from promotion opportunities”.
Tory AM Jonathan Morgan said the police should have been called in immediately.
He said: “This is absolutely disgraceful. I would expect people in these circumstances to have been sacked as opposed to have been given a warning. There could certainly be recourse under civil proceedings under the Human Rights Act.
“The police should have been called in immediately. The privileges of MI5 or M16 to spy on people do not extend to security guards in Cardiff Bay.
“Those people who had been spied upon should have been informed.”
Mr Morgan said he would take the matter up with the Assembly Commission.
There are several cameras around the Cardiff Bay buildings – some disguised as lights – which have views around the Bay.
Residents and visitors to the popular residential, tourist and eating-out spots were stunned to hear what they had been used for.
Helen Peterson, 32, from the Rhondda, was visiting the Bay to meet a friend.
She said: “Oh my God. You’re kidding? It makes your skin crawl. I can’t believe they were allowed to keep their jobs after that.”
One resident of Sovereign Quay, who asked not to be named, said: “They obviously thought they could brush it under the carpet by just giving them warnings.
“Frankly, I’m not surprised someone would try it. But I’m amazed they weren’t fired for it. That stinks.”
The offences took place within the last two years and a spokeswoman for the Assembly said they were “isolated incidents”.
She said: “The National Assembly is proud of its security operation, which is very successful in terms of protecting the public, AMs, staff and the Assembly’s buildings. In addition, our security guards are the first people who meet and greet visitors to the Senedd, and they also seek to be welcoming, friendly and helpful.
“The incidents outlined were isolated occurrences and there is no evidence to suggest offences were widespread in terms of frequency or practice among other guards, and no evidence of any similar incidents since the disciplinary investigation.
“However, regular checks are undertaken by management and action was taken quickly when misuse of the CCTV system and telephone system was discovered.”