Southend Labour Party Breaches Data Protection Act
It’s no secret that I was very unhappy to be barred from again standing as a Labour Party candidate in May’s local elections because the local executive committee decided my work as a glamour photographer may be embarrassing to the party.
I re-joined the Labour Party three years ago, inspired by Jeremy Corbyn – an honest politician of principles. I soon found that the established powers in Southend Labour wanted to see nothing more than the back of Mr Corbyn as soon as possible, and still do.
In 2016 I offered to put my name forward as a ‘paper’ candidate, to stand in a ward that Labour had no realistic hope of winning. I stood in Prittlewell and, no doubt to many’s astonishment, came within 78 votes of winning that ward. I then stayed on for 18 months as the Party’s Spokesman for the ward.
A month or so before candidate selection took place for this year’s elections, the local executive took the decision to make Prittlewell an All Woman Shortlist (AWS) meaning that only a woman could be selected by Labour for that ward, effectively ending any chance I had of standing their again, despite all the work I had put in there for two years (see this blog). They then wanted to reassess my suitability as a candidate – that’s when I was barred from standing anywhere.
I appealed the decision, as many rules and guidelines had not been followed in their assessment process and the question of my photography work was never discussed, despite me bringing it up at interview. Unsurprisingly the regional Labour Party rejected my appeal and took no notice of the many transgressions of Party rules by Southend Labour.
I then took my case to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) – the body that deals with breaches of the Data Protection Act.
Southend Labour had created a dossier on me that contained inaccurate & fabricated information. It is an offence to do this and not rectify the situation when informed of it. This dossier was presented to the selection panel as evidence by the Southend Labour LCF (Local Campaign Forum) Executive. It was constructed in such a way as to suggest that I had concealed information from the Party and attempted to deceive them.
It took four months to get a response from Southend Labour, and that was only after the ICO gave them 7 days notice to either comply or face the consequences. The ICO found that Southend Labour LCF had indeed breached the Act and held incorrect information. (Former LCF Exec member who has since resigned over a crude football podcast, Daniel Cowan, also breached the act by broadcasting confidential information).
I believe the vast majority of Labour Party members are good and well intentioned people and I’m sorry if this damages the reputation of the wider party. However a current Southend Labour Councillor has again raised the matter, questioning my Party loyalty in exercising my legal right to have the local Executive officers’ actions investigated.
If you’re still following by here – well done.
I collected several statements from party members to back up my appeal to the Labour Party Eastern Region – here’s one from someone who sat on one of the candidate selection panels and is also a member of the LCF Exec – so I don’t want to tar all the members of the LCF Exec with the same brush – a couple were very supportive of me and expressed their dissatisfaction at the manoeuvrings of the majority.
In spite of the following half-hearted apology from the LCF for their actions, which I do not believe were ‘inadvertent’, and the findings of the ICO, Southend Labour Group leader, Cllr Ian Gilbert has not the humility to accept any wrong-doing and has tried to intimidate me by suggesting it is libellous for me say that it has been proven so.