Clause One emails Labour First supporters, raising fears of DPA breach

Labour’s international CLP (constituency Labour party), with some 3,500 members, is one of Labour’s larger CLPs, although its members are spread all over the world.

Labour First (LF) is one of Labour’s bigger right-wing factions, run by self-described ‘old Labour right’ Luke Akehurst.

Last week a new ‘centrist’ group sent the following email to members of Labour International who have signed up to LF’s mailing list:

From: Clause One Labour <team@clauseone.org>
Subject: Clause One Labour International
Date: 5. January 2018 at 11:54:37 GMT+1
To: team@clauseone.org

Hello from Clause One Labour International,

I’m Chris Birks and as a volunteer for Labour First, I understand you’re signed up to Labour First’s objectives and may be interested in joining the Labour International Clause One group. We’re a brand new group providing a voice to oppose the hard-left takeover of the CLP.

Last month a handful of volunteers – led by myself – established an informal group and were quickly followed by scores of like-minded members. The aim is to increase our presence within Labour International and secure its future as a democratic and representative constituency Labour Party for its 3,500+ members who live all over the world. The current Labour International Coordinating Committee is heavily stacked in favour of Momentum members and over recent months they have:

  • Announced decisions to a small chosen few on Facebook and excluded huge swaths of the membership;
  • Have banned our NEC representative, Ann Black, from participating in online discussions;
  • Allowed a culture of abuse, including racism and anti-semitism to thrive.

Today, the LICC advertised a handful of co-opted positions which need to be filled before the end of the month and I’m determined to present Clause One members for every position giving us the very best opportunity to influence the LICC and change the direction it’s headed.

If you’d like to join a group of like-minded; progressive and moderate Labour members on Facebook, click this link: Clause One Labour International Group. The group is currently visible, however, I would like to make it a secret group sooner rather than later so please join as soon as possible.

Please take a look at our newly-launched (and pretty basic) website following the link below and feel free to contact me anytime with questions or comments.

Thank you,

Chris Birks

The voice of moderate and progressive Labour members living overseas.


Under the Data Protect Act (DPA), a ‘data controller’ must not disclose personal information to a third party without the express permission of the ‘data subject’. The fact that the email came from a ‘clauseone.org’ email address to someone who had registered with Labour First and not with Clause One raised concerns about a possible breach of the DPA.

The SKWAWKBOX contacted Luke Akehurst to ask for more information about the relationship between LF and Clause One. He responded:

We are supportive of what Clause One is doing but they are a separate group that was set up spontaneously by members of Labour International.

This clearly seems to indicate that ‘Clause One’ constitutes a third party, so we sent a follow-up asking:

  • how Birks knew that the recipients of the email were signed up to Labour First’s objectives
  • whether LF and Clause One had shared data
  • whether LF had explicit permission from data subjects to do so

Akehurst responded:

Chris Birks is emailing people on the LF email list in his capacity as a volunteer for LF. The purpose of his email is to ask if they would like to join Clause One.

But does that stand up?

Birks was not emailing from a Labour First email address to pass on a question from Labour First whether their member would be interested in hearing from or looking at Clause One. He was emailing from a Clause One email address and calling Clause One ‘we’ – stating only that he obtained the understanding that the recipient was an LF supporter through being an LF volunteer.

If Akehurst’s reasoning is faulty, could LF still permit the sharing of personal data on the basis that those signing up had given permission for them to share it?

LF’s website privacy policy contains a section detailing how they might use the data given to them by those signing up:

LF priv.png

The privacy policy does not contain any provision for the disclosure of data to third parties. In fact, it specifically says no such disclosure will be made unless required by law. Nor does it state that LF volunteers might use the data for their own, separate organisation.

Chris Birks of Clause One was contacted for comment about the email. He commented:

The premise for contact is stated clearly in the original correspondence – I’m a volunteer for Labour First.

Under the DPA, the claim that Birks accessed the data as a Labour First volunteer would not in itself justify its use by him for a purpose that is not directly a Labour First activity – and as Mr Akehurst stated, Clause One is a separate organisation.

Under the DPA, the fact that LF is supportive of Clause One’s purposes would be unlikely to allow LF to share its supporters data unless the subjects of the data had given specific permission to do so.

Whether this constitutes a breach would be a matter for the Information Commissioner – but it raised serious enough concerns in the mind of a Labour First subscriber for that person to send the details to the SKWAWKBOX.

The email also flags an attempt by the Labour right to start taking control of one of Labour’s largest CLPs – but that’s a topic for a separate article.

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  1. How many different ‘organisations’ has the RW ‘spontaneously’ set up, I’ve lost count?
    The RW falsely accuse Momentum of subverting the democratic procedures of the Labour Party on a regular basis, which rather begs the question of how they justify their declared intention to set up a sinister secret organisation with the express intention of subverting the elections within the LICC

  2. A rather flagrant breach of the DPA.

    Has anyone affected by this invasion of their privacy lodged a complaint with the Information Commissioner?

    1. But not being able to contact fellow members because of DPA concerns has been a big problem when trying to set up local Momentum groups. And when we’ve looked into this it has seemed to be a very flimsy excuse. For example, what harm is done? Our advice was that the Information Commissioner would simply smile politely if presented with a complaint. The reason being that we’re all paid up members of a private club – the Labour Party – and although the difference between Momentum and Labour First might seem incredibly massive to us, legally it isn’t. Likewise, the Labour First loon using the LF data set to email people about LF style business isn’t really harming anyone (presuming he’s keeping the data ‘safe’). Is it useful to pretend there is harm?

      1. Coyne adopted the same cavalier approach to the DPA as you and that didn’t work out too well for him

  3. Announced decisions to a small chosen few on Facebook and excluded huge swaths of the membership;
    Have banned our NEC representative, Ann Black, from participating in online discussions;
    Allowed a culture of abuse, including racism and anti-semitism to thrive.
    SB have you asked the person saying the above, to provide evidence

    1. The first two are nonsense and the last one is defamatory. They have been challenged and they appear to be backing off.

  4. Lies, Slanderous accusations, mis representing hard working elected officials of LI and breaking Data Protection rules. Sounds about right for Labour First and their accolytes

  5. It is very plain to me that the trawl for more members is not a problem..I site this with some authority because the other LI group,the informal group, considered it OK to publicise posts that were to be added to the LICC as co optees and ,while not directly advertised,were posted as descriptive items for information. Did this not give the members of that group,I am one, a greater advantage to prepare an application.? Would someone please advise me of the difference.? I note too that the LICC has a majority of Momentum members,as does the informal group. The phrase pot ,kettle ,black springs to mind.

    1. Where the advertisements you site, done on the same premise of lies and to cause division?

  6. The “voice of moderate and progressive members” … read “crumbs for working people” and perhaps Labour First or THE CLUELESS ONES GROUP should rename themselves WE KNOW OUR PLACE! Why don’t these political simpletons just read some Left wing books or journals, it could actually enthuse their hearts and stimulate their minds! Will history ever know that they existed? POWER TO DIVERSE WORKING PEOPLE! Keep up the good work SB!

  7. Chris Birks, who set up the Labour International Clause One Group, has now left the Labour Party. This may be due to his previously undisclosed membership of the BNP a number of years ago, which he claimed to have joined ‘by accident.’ He then went on to join Conservative Forum in the East Midlands. He joined the Labour Party last Summer apparently.

    It seems hating Momentum is a good enough reason to be accepted as a Labour First volunteer.

    To the tune of My Old Man’s a Dustman:

    “Our Admin’s a Nazi, he bought a Nazi pin
    But he really hates the lefties, so we just left him in…”

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