Computers in the British Parliament have been used to access gay cruising, and hardcore pornography websites thousands of times over a fourteen month period.

A Freedom of Information request filed by the Mail on Sunday revealed that gay cruising websites were accessed 3,459 times, and porn websites were accessed 2,459, on computers used by MPs, peers and staff between May 2011 and July 2012.

The report found that a gay dating website was accessed 2,828 times in May 2011 alone.

PinkNews.co.uk was among the most visited websites over 2012.

The pornography which was accessed included sadomasochism, foot and fat fetishism, and a website which featured naked women lying next to cats was visited 17 times.

The report said that when asked for an explanation, a parliamentary spokeswoman said the sites might have been visited accidentally.

She said: “A user may access a site that contains optional or automatic links to another which are recorded without active connection.

“But where there is trustworthy evidence that an employee has breached the acceptable use policy, it is treated as an issue subject to disciplinary procedures.

“However, direct employees of Parliament are not the only users of the parliamentary network.”

Visiting such websites are in breach of parliamentary IT regulations, which require that ‘pornography’, ‘nudity’ and ‘adult/mature content’, are not viewed.

The IT system is supposed to automatically block ‘personals/dating’ websites.

A barrister specialising in obscenity cases, Harry Potter, said: “Having viewed the material, it does not in my opinion fall foul of the law as constituting extreme pornography. It is, however, undoubtedly hardcore pornography.”

The release also revealed that a website allowing users to choose which MPs have the “most sex appeal” was clicked 12,371 times, and a sex-toy shopping website was visited.

Some critics said that those responsible for clicking onto such websites should be held accountable, as they are not linked to their jobs.

Matthew Sinclair of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said: “Many people working in Parliament are spending far too much time surfing websites that have nothing to do with their jobs. What’s more, this evidence suggests codes of conduct are being breached.

“It is vital that taxpayers are able to scrutinise how time they are paying for is spent and that anyone caught breaking the rules is appropriately punished.”

Earlier in February, reports also found that parliamentary computers were used to click onto websites encouraging adulterous affairs, such as Out of Town Affairs, which was visited 52,375 times in seven months.