It’s not just Data Protection that Virgin broke by releasing CCTV

They say when you point a finger to accuse, you’ve got three pointing back at yourself. Virgin’s attempt to attack Jeremy Corbyn’s integrity is casting the company in an extremely bad light.

Not only is the company now under investigation by the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office) for a probable breach of the Data Protection Act (DPA) in its decision to release CCTV footage of Corbyn (and others), but it turns out that the company also contravened the promises to its users contained in its own privacy policy.

Virgin promises only to use CCTV footage of its passengers as follows:

virgin privpol

Let’s look at each of those bullet points to see whether they apply:

  • prevent, deter and detect crime Nope, no crime was being committed
  • apprehend and prosecute offenders, and provide evidence to take civil action in the courts Again, Nope, no crime, no courts, just running to the media
  • help provide a safer environment for our staff Nope – Corbyn was polite to staff and even praised them in his video
  • protect public safety No – nobody was at risk (except passengers without seats, whose risk would be increased in the event of a crash)
  • help to provide improved customer service, for example by enabling staff to see customers requiring assistance Nope. Releasing footage to the media does nothing for customer service. In fact, it outraged many passengers who have come forward to confirm that the train was, in fact, overcrowded (or ‘ram-full’)
  • monitor operational and safety related incidents Nope, that’s not achieved by releasing footage to the BBC and others
  • assist with the verification of claims No, Corbyn made no claim against Virgin for not finding him a seat – and even his video only spoke about general overcrowding problems; it was not a complaint about Virgin

Nothing at all in these promises allows or excuses Virgin’s decision.

And, since any business handling data knows that breaching the DPA is a very serious matter, a mere desire to extenuate a possible PR blow in Virgin being the train Corbyn was on does not explain the decision to release the footage and breach not only data protection requirements but also their own privacy policy.

Especially when the claims accompanying the footage have been refuted not only by other passengers on the train but also by photographic evidence.

Is it coincidental that the release and statement took place just as Labour members and supporters started to receive their voting links/papers for an election involving a Labour leader who has made no secret of his intention to take control of the railways away from private interests by renationalising them (a very popular policy with the public)?

Whatever their reasons, Virgin’s actions have backfired. All they appear to have achieved is to draw attention to their overcrowding problems, as people are talking about their own experiences of ‘ram-packed’ Virgin trains on social media.

It also highlights (as if it were needed) the complicity of the mainstream media and Corbyn’s opponent in the Labour race, Owen Smith, and those backing him in desperate attempts to smear Corbyn at any cost, even when the truth is already well and truly in the public domain on this blog and in other sources.

All while the evidence has vindicated Corbyn completely and his integrity is not only intact but shines even brighter in contrast with the grubby attempts to undermine him.


  1. I am travelling to Darlington this friday to visit family. Been doing this line for 30 years. Not sure but increasingly seems there are no trains not ram-packed. I’ve been forced to take a half days leave in order to find a train with a seat reservation available (I have a disability and don’t wish not to have a seat). Virgin push everything to the limit. Have cut the loyalty scheme and tied it up to their airline/nectar. Miserable bunch. Remember they didn’t get the franchise initially and brought a legal challenge to get the right outcome?

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