The Labour Party has started writing back to members who complained about their data being given to Gerard Coyne, who has used it – stupidly, but nobody said he was competent – to contact non-Unite members asking them to vote for him as the union’s General Secretary.
The emails being sent are a study in generic denial and buck-passing. Here’s one:
FW: Labour Data Protection Breach
From: Labour Membership <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Thu, Apr 6, 2017 at 10:08 AM
Thank you for contacting us regarding unsolicited communication from Gerard Coyne’s campaign.
We are unable to say how you were contacted by Mr Coyne’s campaign, and suggest you should contact his campaign directly to ask the source of their data they hold on you, and to remove any data they hold on you if you do not wish them to hold it.
The Labour Party is very clear that no data may be shared with any third party or other organisation, and take our obligations under the Data Protection Act very seriously. We have not supplied any Labour Party data to Mr Coyne or anybody else. Labour Party data is held and processed only for the legitimate purpose of running a political party.
The Labour Party
“Nothing to do with us, guv. Nothing to see here. Move along. These are not the droids you’re looking for.“
Except there is compelling evidence to conclude that it is simply not true. Three ‘smoking guns’, in fact.
#1 – Beretta 9mm
At least one of the emails sent out by Gerard Coyne went to an email that was uniquely created to receive Owen Smith’s campaign emails for the 2016 leadership contest and never used for any other purpose. At least some of the data Coyne is using came from Smith’s database of Labour members – to which only Smith and his Labour team had access. If anybody else had the data to supply it to Coyne, that simply adds another Data Protection Act (DPA) breach for them to have it in the first place.
#2 – Smith & Wesson 45
After the SKWAWKBOX originally revealed the initial Smith ‘smoking gun’, further information also showed that Labour member data had been leaked from at least two sources. Coyne was also contacting Labour members who had never been in Unite and had never signed up to receive any Owen Smith emails.
Members were affected nationwide, proving that it wasn’t, for example, local member data that had been leaked by, say, a constituency member secretary or even regional HQ.
Again, if Coyne did not receive that data directly from someone at Labour HQ, that simply adds another DPA breach, because someone outside Labour was given it illegally – so Labour ‘data managers’ are at least once guilty and possibly twice.
#3 – 357 Magnum
The matter is already beyond reasonable doubt but this one removes even unreasonable doubt: Gerard Coyne admitted it.
Live, on national radio, to BBC interviewer John Pienaar. Here’s the recording and the transcript of the admission:
In terms of knowing the er, er, arrangement, the use of Labour Party data was something that was agreed, I believe it’s perfectly legitimate and that it was perfectly lawful as well. So it wasn’t a question of it being ‘put a stop to’, it was actually, er, concluded.
Not ‘of the data’. Of ‘the Labour Party data‘.
Bang. Bang. Bang. Now smell the waft of cordite.
Of course, with regard to Labour’s denial, “well, they would say that, wouldn’t they“. They’re hardly going to send out a template email to hundreds or even thousands of members – especially when the breach could bring down a large part of the right-wing apparatus at HQ and on the NEC (National Executive Committee) – saying,
It’s a fair cop, guvnor.
So if you’ve received one of these emails from Labour HQ, forward a copy to the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office) on email@example.com along with a link to this article and a request to formally investigate.
The most damnable thing about all this is that, if a financial penalty is imposed by the ICO, for a criminal breach the fine is unlimited – and the scale of the fine imposed is affected by, among other things, how the offending party behaves once the breach is identified. Here’s what the ICO document “Internal Procedure for Issuing Monetary Penalties” says about it:
So whoever at the head of Labour has decided to take this approach – presumably the buck stops with General Secretary Iain McNicol, even if he hasn’t personally made the call – is recklessly compounding the damage to the Labour Party.
Labour HQ needs to stop it’s Canute-like refusal to acknowledge a breach that is really beyond doubt – and to take a leaf out of Unite’s book by cutting the offender(s) loose to face the consequences personally, so that Labour members do not end up paying for a crime committed against them.
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