“How else do you think I know who has been naughty and who has been nice?” demanded Santa Claus during a recent CNN interview with Piers Morgan, as he sought to defend allegations that his North Pole headquarters had been involved in mass secret surveillance of millions of citizens across the world. “The days when we could rely on those bloody letters addressed to the North Pole have long gone – trust me, thanks to the privatisation of many national postal services most of those letters now end up in a skip somewhere! This is a high tech world we’re living in, so it is only natural that we should look to a high tech solution to the perennial problem of making sure the right people get the presents they want every Christmas!” Nevertheless, despite Father Christmas’ strenuous attempts to justify his organisation’s methods, they have been widely condemned across the world, by both governments and civil liberties campaigners. “This is an outrageous invasion of innocent citizens’ privacy, on an industrial scale,” top human rights lawyer Tim Jidwell told Radio Four’s Today programme yesterday. “The victims here are not terrorists or criminals, they are just ordinary people who expect to be able to go about their business without being constantly snooped on by shadowy quasi-official organisations. I mean, just who is this Santa Claus accountable to? How do we know he actually exists and isn’t just a front for some sinister corporation or evil government organisation trying to steal our data for nefarious purposes?”

Father Christmas’ massive surveillance operation became public knowledge after a former contractor at his North Pole factory, Ed Snowman, leaked thousands of documents, audio recordings and videos gathered by the seasonal icon to a British newspaper. “I was contacted to analyse the confidential Christmas present lists and letters to Santa to work out who wanted what, but it quickly became apparent that I was looking at far more detailed information than they could have got from just those sources,” Snowman – who is currently seeking asylum in Antartica – told The Sentinel‘s security correspondent last week. “I was shocked to discover that they were actually monitoring phone calls, intercepting e-mails and texts and even conducting visual surveillance on people all over the world!” Eventually, Snowman claims, his conscience got the better of him and he decided that he had a moral duty to expose Santa’s surveillance operation. “It just didn’t seem right, all this indiscriminate monitoring of people – they just recorded everything, regardless of whether it was connected to Christmas or not,” he explained. “Damn it, they were even collecting information from Muslim and Hindu families, and they don’t even celebrate Christmas!”

Consequently, Snowman downloaded as much data as he could onto mobile media and fled the North Pole in a stolen sled. A terrifying chase ensued, with Santa, his sled powered a by a crack team of reindeer, constantly trying to force Snowman into warmer climes. “The bastard knew that I’d melt if I was forced too far South,” he told The Sentinel. “But I was eventually able to outwit him, finding refuge in the cold storage room of a branch of Iceland.” Snowman is keen to dispel the popular image of Santa as a genial old man, dispensing kindness and joy. “He’s just a dirty old man, no better than a Peeping Tom,” he says. “All this nonsense about helping people to enjoy the festive season, it’s just an excuse for him to indulge his disgusting voyeurism – you should see his confidential file of pictures of women in their underwear he has stashed under his tree.” Tim Jidwell shares Snowman’s scepticism as to Santa’s true motives for gathering personal data on such a scale. “Well obviously it has nothing to do with supplying the ‘right’ Christmas presents – everyone knows that Santa is just a myth! People buy presents for their loved ones themselves, for God’s sake!” he ranted on the Today programme. “Clearly, whoever he really is, he’s planning to sell this data – which include detailed analyses of people’s shopping habits, sexual preferences, medical conditions, even their favourite colours – for commercial purposes.”

However, Jidwell’s comments have been roundly condemned in some quarters, not least for ruining the Christmases of small children everywhere by denying the existence of Santa. “The likes of Snowman – who is basically just a thief who has betrayed his employer’s trust – and Jidwell are putting the security, if not the very existence, of Christmas at risk,” Tory backbencher Roland Parkington-Truss has told the Daily Excess. “Not only are they stripping away the magic of the season with their tawdry revelations, but they are risking people trying to deliberately manipulate their likely presents now that they know they are being watched, by changing their behaviour. Worse, they could try and deceive Santa into giving bad presents to those they don’t like, by the same means.” The MP also rejects calls from some governments for Santa to be made accountable to the United Nations, so as to bring his surveillance operations under some kind of oversight. “It’s a ridiculous idea, cooked up by all those bloody communists and pagans who dominate the UN these days, designed to destroy Christmas through bureacracy,” he blustered in the newspaper article. “Secrecy is essential for the successful operation of Christmnas – without it there can be no surprises when you open your presents. We just have to trust that Santa knows best!”

Father Christmas himself continues to defend his programme, claiming that it has clearly improved the Christmas gift receiving experience for everyone. “Look, surely nobody would deny that since we’ve been actively monitoring people’s Christmas activities that the quality of presents has improved,” insisted Santa, when pressed by Piers Morgan to justify such a gross invasion of privacy. “Long gone are the days of the ‘one size fits all’ solution of aftershave, socks or a pullover for men, for instance, when we had insufficient information to supply the right present. And when was the last time you heard of some poor bugger getting an orange in their stocking on Christmas Day, eh? Surely avoiding that kind of Christmas Day disappointment is worth giving up a little bit of your privacy for?”