‘Smoking gun’ – Coyne campaign is using illegally-obtained Owen Smith data

As indicated in the preceding post, Gerard Coyne’s campaign for the leadership of the Unite union continues to send out emails to Labour members who have never been members of the union, in spite of numerous complaints to the campaign by angered recipients and in spite of a widespread social media outcry, including much addressed directly to his social media accounts.

There has been speculation that the email addresses may have been provide by Birmingham Mayoral candidate Sion Simon, after the two men agreed a ‘mutual support’ pact. But the SKWAWKBOX can now reveal the source of the information and that it can only have been obtained via a breach of the Data Protection Act (DPA).

Last year, during the leadership contest that followed the infamous ‘chicken coup’ by right-wing Labour MPs, Philip Williams  signed up for challenger Owen Smith’s campaign emails – not because he supported Smith, but because he wanted to remain aware of the challenger’s campaign.

As he did not wish to expose his usual email address to the campaign, he set up a unique email address for the sign-up. Mr Williams has never disclosed that to any other person or organisation.

But he is now receiving emails from Gerard Coyne to that address.

Here is one of those emails, with the email address obscured at Mr Williams’ request:

p williams coyne.jpg

The only place this email can reasonably have come from is the Owen Smith campaign database. The data could have been provided by Sion Simon’s team as part of their mutual support arrangement, or it might have been provided directly by someone from Smith’s defunct campaign. If the former, this means that the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office) will be investigating not one but two separate breaches of the DPA.

coyne smith simon.png
Gerard Coyne, Owen Smith, Sion Simon – who else might be involved?

Whichever route the information took, the one thing that is clear is that Coyne’s campaign has no business being in possession of it. Signing up to a Smith campaign email grants the Smith campaign and only the Smith campaign the right to use the details provided.

It in no way grants permission for personal details to be shared with a third party – and the fact that a unique-use email address used for the Smith emails has cropped up in the email addresses used by the Coyne campaign means there must have been a breach of the DPA. This already seemed obvious from the previously-available information, but now it’s beyond reasonable doubt.

The source of the information also makes absolutely clear the motivation for the Coyne challenge and the support it has received from the right wing of the Labour Party – to undermine Jeremy Corbyn by bringing down Len McCluskey. An attempt that, fortunately but without room for complacency, looks like failing abysmally.

This information will be passed to the ICO for addition to its existing investigation. If you have further pertinent information, please contact the SKWAWKBOX.

The SKWAWKBOX is provided free of charge but depends on the generosity of its readers to be viable, especially now that we have changed our hosting plan to eliminate adverts for our readers. If you found this information helpful and can afford to, please click here to arrange a one-off or modest monthly donation via PayPal. Thanks for your support so this blog can keep bringing you information the Establishment would prefer you not to know about.


  1. Of course, if the ICO is to investigate this issue, they should also look into data sharing between other campaigns – for example, data sharing between campaigns to elect Corbyn and Momentum, which are distinct and separate organisations. The whole Augean stables probably needs a clear-out.

  2. I received emails and postal leaflets from Coyne’s team and I’m not a member of the Labour Party, though I am Unite member. Even if I was a member of the LP, I wouldn’t have supported Owen Smith in a million years.
    Who’s list was I on?

    1. If you are a member of Unite then surely all candidates would have been given access to your email address (or rather, I suppose, the union would have sent out campaigning emails to all members on behalf of all (?)three candidates). By contrast I’m an LP member, never been a member of Unite, and have had several emails from Coyne.

  3. HannahB … well it seems obvious to me that you are Unites list. It’s people who are not Unite members who have had their data breached

  4. I received a second email from him although I’m not a Unite member & never have been (I am a Labour Party member) & I messaged him via his Facebook page. I can see that the message has been read (saying how did you get my email address?) but there has been no reply.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: