Audio: Lab HQ re private social media: ‘anything’s accessible with right codes’

During the 2016 Labour leadership contest, there was outrage over the ‘purge’ of Labour members and supporters carried out by Labour’s HQ, in which many people from both groups had their right to vote in the election withdrawn – and in some cases were suspended and even expelled, based on comments they had made on social media.

Labour’s headquarters is considered by many to remain sympathetic to the right-wing – or ‘moderate’, depending on your viewpoint – faction.

Many of those affected complained that comments used to suspend them had been made on accounts set to ‘private’, which Labour ‘NEC panels’ should not have been able to access.

The SKWAWKBOX has obtained an audio recording of a call between a member of Labour’s compliance unit and a suspended member who is complaining at just such an apparent ‘hacking’ – her term – of her private Facebook feed by a panel that subsequently suspended her and blocked her ‘£25 vote’.

The response by the compliance officer who does not deny, or seem surprised by, the fact that private comments on a secured Facebook feed had been used, includes a striking comment. Below is the audio with subtitles – redactions have been made to remove personal information and for brevity:

The SKWAWKBOX contacted Labour’s press office for comment. A Labour spokesperson said:

The Labour Party has no special codes or software and cannot access anybody’s private social media feeds. The Labour Party’s rules and procedures are compliant with all areas of UK law, including the Data Protection Act.

However, guidance recently issued by the party’s General Secretary Iain McNicol appears to suggest that the very act of using any social media comments to suspend or expel members contravenes the Data Protection Act, raising serious concerns about the exercise by the party’s bureaucracy that many felt was an attempt to winnow out likely Corbyn voters.

The SKWAWKBOX is provided free of charge but depends on the generosity of its readers to be viable. If you 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. It is looking like the actions of Iain McNicol and is cohorts are damaging the image of the Labour Party and bringing the party into disrepute

  2. Poor Jack doesn’t actually mention Facebook at all – it’s the lady that brings that up. Jack specifically says he can’t see the evidence.

    Other social media sites are available!!

    1. The Labour Party’s compliance unit can clear this up very easily, all they have to do is provide the complainant with a copy of the evidence they used against her. As they have already stated that the refusal of her application for membership was based on social media posts this should be really easy for them to do.

      1. Agreed. Unfortunately the recording seems to cut off before the end of the call, so we don’t know the outcome, but I’m assuming there’s some sort of appeals procedure.

      2. Excellent point, and one which the compliance unit has no excuse for not, err, ‘complying’ with =)

        If the compliance unit used information that was only available on a private FB profile/page, that, in itself, would amount to an explosive revelation, and the party bureaucracy’s response is interesting in what it actually fails to deny.

        1. “The Labour Party has no special codes or software …” If the compliance unit was given access to private Facebook pages to trawl for a pretext to exclude Jeremy’s supporters, they wouldn’t have needed special code or software: Google “facebook monitoring protesters”. FB is now trying to distance itself from practices that it was perfectly happy to facilitate at the time, so there is precedent.

        2. ‘… and cannot access anybody’s private social media feeds.’ Cannot is not the same as DID NOT. A follow up question should put them on the spot as to whether they DID.

        3. ‘The Labour Party’s rules and procedures are compliant …”. They ARE compliant, now, they WEREN’T compliant then. And, even if they were, the compliance unit has already admitted to trawling public FB profiles during the leadership challenge, in contravention of the Data Protection Act.

        If the compliance unit was granted access to private FB content, the implications are huge. On whose authority or recommendation was such access granted, by whom was it granted and on what terms and conditions? Who knew what and when?

        If there are any more people out there who think they could only have been excluded on the basis of private social media content (any platform), we need them to come forward so we can put together a more complete picture.

  3. The labour party used an algorithm to trawl many accounts. How else can they show private account information as evidence, They screen shot Twitter and facebook. Sorry but they have to face the music on this one. heads have to roll. Suspended members should be reinstate immediately without loss of continuity of membership. I felt that angry after receiving my reinstatement letter with the threat from McNicholl that I would be revisited in the future if I had any more spats with Members. I resigned. After some while I was encouraged by various members to rejoin as I was the CLP secretary at the time. However I applied on the 11th June 2017 and received the text saying I will receive my pack in 7-10 days. I am still waiting. I rang the membership unit and was not given a proper explanation as to the delay. Although it was the same day as the court ruling. I have asked that my rejoining should not be counted as a new membership as they are using my old membership number for reference. I may be wrong but if this is the case then there should be no break in continuity of membership. Those responsible need to held to account and Jeremy needs to intervene on this issue. It needs to be sorted before another election is called.

  4. At the time it had the smell of a Bliarite mare’s nest but it served its purpose as a method of silencing Corbyn supporters. Now it’s all sweetness and light apparently, with reinstatements without apology or anything else. The Court of the Star Chamber who batted the people without any sort of evidence should be held liable for these without foundation allegations and subsequent expulsions. If not it will stink the party out for years!

    1. Couldn’t agree more. I remain convinced that there was enough outright misconduct by party officials, party staff and even a certain portly, unloved MP, to bury them all many times over if an honest account of their actions were to come to light.

      While phonebanking in the last week before voting closed, I was speaking to members and supporters who’d mysteriously received their ballot papers (late) in spite of having being earlier excluded on the flimsiest of pretexts. I got the distinct impression that, realising Owen Pfizerboy had failed dismally, HQ and their assorted collaborators were desperately trying to put a different gloss on the matter at the last minute.

      At this stage, I won’t settle for anything less than their disgrace and dismissal. Misconduct during the leadership challenge is THE place to look for sufficient cause to do so.

      The suspicions aired in this article might not pan out but they’re worth every ounce of investigatory effort we can muster.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: