The SKWAWKBOX reported earlier this week on the emails received from Unite General Secretary challenger Gerard Coyne‘s campaign by people who had never been members of Unite. These recipients were all members or registered supporters of the Labour Party, suggesting a serious breach of the Data Protection Act (DPA) – giving your details to Labour for them to contact you does not entitle anyone else to use them – nor entitle Labour to disclose those details to a third party.
As a result of that report, a significant number of readers have contacted this blog with copies of emails received from Coyne’s campaign – enough to suggest that the breach has potentially involved thousands of Labour members and supporters.
Below are examples of the emails, comments from some of the recipients and a list of names of those affected. This article will be sent to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), after discussions between the ICO and this writer this morning.
A possible source of illegally-leaked information was suggested by a meeting observed yesterday between deputy Labour leader Tom Watson’s media chief and his opposite number in Coyne’s campaign, clearly establishing a direct link between Coyne’s campaign and the team of Watson, who has been repeatedly accused of interference in Unite’s democratic processes.
There have been at least three emails sent to non-Unite members – the first on 16 March:
The second on 20 March, titled ‘I want to change our union’:
And the third, the same day:
None of the recipients are Unite members. None have signed up to receive an email.
Several have written to the campaign or the union since 16 March to complain and to ask how the campaign obtained their details. Here is one such complaint to the union:
Emails to the campaign have, so far, gone unanswered.
Here are the names of those who have contacted the SKWAWKBOX so far to advise that they have received these unsolicited emails and are happy to be named in this article:
It appears, from the evidence available, that someone at the Labour Party has disclosed details of members to the Coyne campaign to help it raise support. All of the above are Labour members or supporters who have never been members of Unite.
The numbers who have been contacted in this way, just among the SKWAWKBOX’s readership, suggests that large numbers of Labour members have had their information compromised. Those who are members of Unite are extremely likely to have been included in the breach but would be unlikely to realise it.
Given that Labour has well over 500,000 members, the potential scale of this breach is enormous and a thorough investigation by the ICO is urgently requested, with those found to be responsible penalised to the full extent of the law.
As the SKWAWKBOX reported, a meeting took place yesterday at Portcullis House between the media chief working for deputy Labour leader Tom Watson and Gerard Coyne’s campaign. While there are likely to be other avenues for the breach, this connection should be included in the investigation.
The information in this article has been sent to the ICO 23 March 2017. If you’ve been affected by this breach and would like your details added to the investigation, put a comment on this article or else email the ICO directly on firstname.lastname@example.org. When the results of the investigation are communicated to this blog, they will be published in full.
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