As the SKWAWKBOX revealed this morning, Gerard Coyne’s use of Labour member data he had no right to access puts him at risk of criminal sanction and unlimited fines as well as potential lawsuits from every Labour member.
Legal advice also indicates that his union Unite could also be liable for the same penalties – unless it could demonstrate that Coyne’s campaign is a separate, ‘firewalled’ entity from the union.
Unite has issued a statement washing its hands of Coyne’s campaign and of any responsibility for his actions.
A Unite spokesman said:
The candidates’ campaigns, the conduct of, and any liabilities arising from the campaigns are matters for the candidates alone. These campaigns are run independently of Unite. Unite has clear rules for the conduct of elections which are overseen by an independent returning officer and an independent election commissioner whose role it is to deal with complaints.
Emphatically clear: Coyne is on his own and the consequences of his actions are his to bear and not the union’s. The spokesman went on:
Guideline 18 as follows offers more on guidance for candidates.
18. All candidates and their campaign supporters should familiarise themselves with the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1988, details of which provisions will be made available to candidates once they are validly nominated and are available from the union administration at any time.
And this from the Unite rule book outlines the role of the election commissioner referred to in the comment:
16:30 If after considering a complaint the Election Commissioner considers; that there has been a material breach of these rules or of any other legal requirement relating to the conduct of the election or any other material interference with the conduct of the election;
and that the breach or interference may materially affect or has or may have materially affected the outcome of the election; the Election Commissioner may recommend that the Executive Council should take one or more of the following measures:-
16.30.1 Declare the ballot and, if it has been declared, the outcome of the election void and call for a fresh ballot to be held;
16.30.2 Disqualify a candidate or candidates and permit the remaining candidates to go forward in the ballot or in any fresh ballot that may be ordered; or
16.30.3 Such other remedial measures as the Election Commissioner consider appropriate.
It couldn’t be any clearer that as far as Unite is concerned, Coyne’s actions were ‘rogue’ and he’s on his own with their consequences.
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