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