Analysis Breaking News

Kirklees council admits ‘massive’ breach of Unison president Paul Holmes’s data

Hundreds of sensitive files including medical records and union emails leaked to local press in ‘malevolent’ data breach, which council has acknowledged took place

Unison president Paul Holmes

Earlier today, Skwawkbox reported the comments by a then-senior Kirklees council executive that she wanted to ‘break’ the council’s Unison branch and its leadership – and the enthusiastic agreement of many senior council managers. Branch leader – and now Unison’s elected president – Paul Holmes is taking legal action to overturn the council’s decision to dismiss him last month after an unexplained two-year suspension.

This afternoon it became clear that someone at the council also leaked hundreds of Holmes’s private and sensitive records to the local press in what his supporters have called a ‘malevolent’ data breach. A statement from the Unison ‘Time for Real Change’ group gives details:

There is an important new twist in the case of Paul Holmes, UNISON National President who was dismissed from Kirklees Council on February 2nd after 48 years’ service. A dossier of 180 Council files about Paul were released to a local newspaper, including hundreds of private documents relating to his employment, together with a full set of the disciplinary papers, correspondence with UNISON and Paul’s medical records. This is a very serious data breach under GDPR regulations – probably criminal.

Paul’s solicitor has reported the incident to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and written to the Council seeking an explanation. Paul Holmes said “I am appalled at this release of private information which was timed to coincide with the last day of my disciplinary hearing on December 1st 2021. There is no doubt that the information was released with malevolent intent. On top of everything else that has happened this has come as a great shock to me. An urgent investigation is required by the Council into this breach.

Paul is appealing his dismissal by Kirklees Council on the grounds that it represents a case of victimisation for Trade Union activities. Paul has been Kirklees UNISON Branch Secretary for 33 years and was recently re-elected at the branch’s Annual General Meeting.

Holmes has the overwhelming support of his branch and his fellow left members of Unison’s elected executive. The union’s legal team has supported Holmes’s application for ‘interim relief’ against the dismissal on the grounds of victimisation of a union rep, but Unison’s management has engaged in a string of attempts to undermine and negate the left’s democratic mandate. Astonishingly, the management also banned Unison branches from expressions of support for the union’s elected president.

A senior union official also recently apologised unequivocally for defaming Holmes. Holmes’s supporters allege collusion between the union right and their political fellow travellers in Kirklees council. A union source told Skwawkbox:

This is a shocking data breach: his medical records, his correspondence with Unison and more. This is another massive story. Unison should be putting out an official statement of support for Paul Holmes immediately.

A spokesperson for the council provided a statement that admits the breach took place and said that the council had put in its own notification to the Information Commissioner and will cooperate ‘fully’ in any investigation:

The council takes any data breach incredibly serious. We are reporting the incident to the Information Commissioner and will cooperate fully with them in any subsequent process. We are also carrying out our own investigation.

Skwawkbox view:

‘Shocking’ is the right word and the breach raises serious questions about the integrity of the long, drawn-out and opaque process used to remove Holmes, who has been a thorn in the council’s side over decades of successful service to Unison members working for the council.

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  1. The fine for a deliberate leak like that could be millions.

    Thge labour right really have no sense of consequences, they just see a target and use anything they can.

    It is about time there were consequences.

    In this case, if the leaker can be identified, that would be prison.

    1. Unless she has been enobled Chami could pay her mortgage with this one. There again could go, buy and let.

  2. A ‘journalist’ never reveals their source(s), MaB. 😀

    Even if – for legal reasons – the Council cannot provide names, dates and details of the 14 employees who allegedly made complainants against Paul Holmes, maybe a bit of “negative engineering” by him or his lawyers could identify the supposed complainants, their possible intent (if they exist), or, more likely, the total absence of verifiable complaints.

    I can understand why Paul Holmes’ decency might cause him anguish at the prospect of implementing this option (and why he might exercise it only as a last resort), but when a director of Resources, Finance and Personnel at the District Council, Ruth Redfern, reportedly rallies staff at a senior management meeting with “We’re going to break Paul Holmes! We’re going to break Unison!”, maybe we are long past that point already.

    The LabourRight in Unison and Kirklees DC have bitten off more than they can chew with Paul Holmes. Solidarity.

  3. You have to ask yourself what the Council was doing with 180 files on Paul. People usually have one personnel file containing details of age qualifications sick leave etc. There are sometimes – but not always – separate files on any Disciplinary and Grievance relating to an individual – but 180 – outrageous.
    I see that Kirklees claims to have referred matters to the ICO but what action have they taken to identify the culprit – should be easy enough – a check of email correspondence would probably be enough. If they have done this and know who leaked Paul’s personal info has that individual been suspended? After all they suspended Paul for 2 years for less. Also I think it is possible that the retention of 180 files on Paul may be deemed to be unlawful – it is an excessive amount of data to collect and hold on any individual . I would be interested to know how Kirklees intends to justify this.
    It seems to me that the Kirklees managers who sought to destroy Paul have become so obsessed with doing this that they have lost all sense and reason. They do not appear to be understand how their actions will be viewed by normal decent people sitting on a Tribunal which is all to the good when the case comes up for hearing.

  4. Data leaks and a breach of confidentiality by a Labour council “…well I never.!
    I wonder were they got that idea from?…And theres methinks that it only takes a small war to bring out the “Rats” ..This council needs De..Nazifying like the leadership .of the labour party…!

  5. It looks as if the unfortunate council tax payers of Kirkless are going to have to stump up a small fortune in legal fees and fines at the end of all this.. It’s inevitable that cost will continue to increase if the Council keeps things going at this rate.

    I hope that the people who the Councillors represent think that its all been very much in their interests & that it’s well worth cutting back on a few essential services for. Lawyers are a much more deserving cause.

    1. Reply to Albert Swift
      I agree wholeheartedly with you and would only add that the paid council officials responsible for this fiasco should be sacked for gross misconduct.

  6. “Massively elected” & “Massive breach”, Is there an embargo on descriptive words?

    1. I’d argue that in the context of use and for the audience, quantification would be surplus and unhelpful.

      Do you have a problem with that? The synchronised-MSM does it all the time.

  7. On Tue 08/03 Paul Holmes’ application for ‘Interim Relief’ was rejected by the court.

      1. Wobbly – Hold your vivid imagination in check
        Interim Relief is an order by the Employment Tribunal that preserves your employment (at least so far as pay is concerned) until after the tribunal has decided your claim for unfair dismissal.

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