Sandwell leader’s remarkable response to questions re confidential leaks: “Don’t waste my time”

Edit: this article originally described Julian Saunders as a ‘UKIP-supporting blogger’. He has been in touch to advise that he is not a UKIP supporter.

Steve Eling

Sandwell council leader – and delegate of right-wing MP John Spellar’s Brandhall Labour Club – Steve Eling has been slated for alleged leaks of sensitive information on political opponents to a blogger who regularly attacks the Labour-run council in the Labour right’s West Midlands stronghold.

He has also been criticised for telling the press, after being attacked by a Tory MP, that the council doesn’t use confidentiality agreements – even though one of his own family members was the beneficiary of one.

But Mr Eling has also been accused by the local blogger known as ‘The Sandwell Skidder’, Julian Saunders, of leaking sensitive information to him, including using a private email address for some communications.

The SKWAWKBOX contacted Mr Eling yesterday with a set of questions about the claims made by Saunders, which include copies of emails – and extracts from WhatsApp discussions with Mr Eling’s then-right-hand man Richard Marshall.

The seven questions asked were:

  1. Why did you and Mr Marshall meet with the blogger, who has slated the council, yourself, other councillors and MPs and doesn’t even live within the borough?
  2. How did you come to release confidential information to the same individual?
  3. How he know about [former council assistant chief executive] Melanie Dudley’s exit prior to the information becoming public?
  4. Why was chief exec Jan Brittan and cabinet member Paul Moore copied in to emails from your council and private email addresses to Julian Saunders?
  5. Why was Mr Marshall not referred by you for suspension after being declared bankrupt?
  6. Who authorised private and confidential information about officers and Labour councillors to be released to and used by an anti-Labour blogger by Mr Marshall via WhatsApp – and why?
  7. Why did you send emails from a private email account to Sandwell Skidder with information about the employment status of officers before the employees themselves knew? That appears to be a serious breach of confidentiality.

Mr Eling responded to the email – but not to the questions:

Do not waste my time asking about this rubbish.

You should be challenging him not Labour Party members.

SKWAWKBOX comment:

Challenges to a right-wing blogger pursuing his own political agenda are, of course, not really the point when a Labour council leader has allegedly been feeding him information.

Many people might consider the above questions to be legitimate matters of public interest. Mr Eling considers the issues ‘rubbish’ and asking about them to be a ‘waste [of] my time’.

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  1. Have you brought these matters to the attention of the NEC/NCC, the ICO, and the plod?

    Let’s see if eling has the same answer for them…

  2. What we are seeing is the behaviour of bourgeois politicians who think politics is about wheeling and dealing and perhaps using the dark arts because they think that is how it is done; Rosa Luxemburg once described this as “Parliamentary Cretinism” and we could add “Council Cretinism.”
    Someone once said that politics is a dirty business but it doesn’t have to be and this is what the public probably hate – people perhaps want honesty.
    You could almost pity them if some didn’t seem to be so odious but perhaps they know no better.
    I hope the Democracy Review brings in Labour Leaders in towns and cities having all member OMOV elections for these positions.
    I have always said we shouldn’t talk about deselections but about democratic selections for left wing democratic socialist candidates who will be the best fighters for diverse working people!

  3. I’m so sick of all this. This data privacy malarkey.

    Try calling a GP to come out for a terminally ill relative who’s bedridden and who has difficulty communicating and you’ll be met with: ‘we can’t do that sorry – it’s breaking data protection laws’.

    On the other side of the coin we have Google, the Government, MI5/MI6, the EU, smartphones, smart TVs, smart meters, the NSA and the whole massive global tentacled creature that is the Surveillance State spying on, and monitoring our every move; recording and filming us at every opportunity to such an extent that I feel sick to my stomach. I call BS on data protection.

    Data protection laws are used against us. They are one sided.

    The data protection narrative we are being sold is a lie, as recently discovered by British IT businessman Nathan Hague discovered when his laptop was confiscated at an Australian airport, and all its private contents copied.

    1. Have a listen to this, the section on China is particularly worrying.


      Hello World: How to be Human in the Age of the Machine Episode 2 of 5

      Society has slowly handed over significant control to computers but how much should we rely on them over our own instincts? Mathematician Hannah Fry uncovers the hidden algorithms behind almost every aspect of our modern lives; lifting the lid on their inner workings, demonstrating their power and exposing their limitations.
      Data: In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, can our personal information ever be safe online?

  4. SteveH 1:35 PM.
    We are the last generation to know what privacy was like.
    There will be no privacy for our descendants.

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