Report to ICO: multiple alleged #DPA breaches by Coyne/Labour

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:

coyne email 1.png

The second on 20 March, titled ‘I want to change our union’:

coyne email 2.png

And the third, the same day:

coyne email 3.png

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:

Christine Lightbody
Ruth Muirhead
Andy Searson
Peter Stephenson
Andy Whiteman
Rosy Gill
Tom George
Susan Ram
Gill Hay
Jorge Martin
Ray Johnson

The Source?

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 casework@ico.org.uk. When the results of the investigation are communicated to this blog, they will be published in full.

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  1. Reblogged this on Sid's Blog and commented:
    WTF When is the Labour Party going to get its act together?
    They’re acting like they don’t believe in democracy!
    Transparency, st all levels, pl lease!

  2. Good work Skwawkbox and looking forward to the eventual outcome. So glad I could contribute to this post

      1. I read it somewhere online biut can’t remember where, sorry

  3. I also had an unsolicited e-mail from Coyne that used my first name which I can only presume has come from my Labour Party membership details. I have e-mailed them asking where they got my details and they have yet to respond. They did send me another e-mail though saying thanks for joining the team. I will send my evidence to the ICO.

  4. Just FYI. The “Gerard Coyne Campaign” has registered with the ICO – though very strangely with the address of “Westminster City Hall”! They regsitered on 21 February 2017 and registration number is ZA235357. Looks like they registered using a Trade Union template as it claims they provide “range of services to our members which may include administering membership records … providing and organising activities for union members”.

    They have promised not to transfer personal data outside the European Economic Area (EEA). It would be interesting to know if any of these emails orginated from outside the EEA.

    The registration is at:


    Their website http://www.votegerardcoyne.co.uk looks like it is operated by votecoyne-union.nationbuilder.com.

  5. … perhaps worth recording here the full name of the “Gerard Coyne Campaign” as given to the ICO, in case the registration is changed (as the “Saving Labour” registration was changed within a few days last summer). Would be lovely to get an explanation why the campaign is run by the City Of Westminster at Westminster City Hall!

    Registration Number: ZA235357

    Date Registered: 21 February 2017 Registration Expires: 20 February 2018

    Data Controller: Gerard Coyne Campaign

    City Of Westminster
    Westminster City Hall
    64 Victoria Street
    SW1E 6QP

    Gerard Coyne Campaign

    Nature of work – Trade Union

  6. Excellent. Data Protection Act is one of best things we have. We had an experience where this happened to us. We got advice & people were hauled over coals. After 25 yrs of injustice came justice. I hope this finishes off Mr Coyne, lover of The Sun. And doesn’t he get support from Mr Watson who in turn got support from Max Mosley – son of Oswald – who was caught in a Nazi orgy which cost him his job as boss of Formula 1. What a web we weave when first we practice to deceive aye.

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