Sometimes, when you make a complaint to a large organisation, its representatives try too hard to hide information – and end up giving more away.
Consider the case of the Labour Party and Labour Against Anti-Semitism. You’ll be familiar with the situation: LAAS had used an email list of Constituency Labour Party secretaries to which the fringe group should not have had access.
So party members wrote to the party, asking for those involved to have their party membership suspended while a detailed investigation into their conduct is held, with the possibility of expulsion if they are found guilty of crimes.
Now read on, as Martin Odoni of The Critique Archives, who drafted the complaint letter template, details the response he received and explains what is wrong with it:
Following up on that complaint I lodged with the Labour Party over the weekend about the misdeeds of the fringe group Labour Against Anti-Semitism, I today received a reply from Tim Dexter of the complaints unit. Here is the text; –
Thank you for your email.
I want to assure you that the Labour Party takes its responsibilities in handling sensitive data extremely seriously and we would never provide third parties with any sensitive information they are not entitled to.
LAAS are a completely separate organisation to the Labour Party. They are not affiliated to the party and do not hold any status within the party.
If you have concerns about how they have obtained your data I suggest in the first instance you ask them where they obtained the information from. If they are unable to provide a satisfactory response then you should consider raising a complaint with the ICO, information on how to do this can be found at the following website: https://ico.org.uk/make-a-complaint/your-personal-information-concerns/personal-information-concerns/personal-information-concerns-report/
I never implied that the Labour Party itself was leaking sensitive data to anybody – the thought had never even crossed my mind come to that – so this is the classic example of a guilty-sounding, unsolicited denial that, far from allaying suspicions, instead raises suspicions that were not there in the first place.
The bit about LAAS being a separate organisation is not really the point. I did mention it myself in the original complaint, come to that, and I was asking quite explicitly for the party to take action against them for operating in Labour’s name without permission. Mr Dexter displays startlingly little interest in that idea, or concern about the damage LAAS could do to the party’s reputation.
Some of LAAS‘ members … most particularly Euan Philipps, are members of the Labour Party. Even if they treat their capacity as LAAS members as a completely separate business, when they do what they do in the name of the Labour Party, that non-afiliation status should not afford them any protection. But Mr Dexter appears happy to let Philipps et al have it both ways.
I never suggested that LAAS has hold of my contact data at all. I am certainly not aware of receiving any communications from them. I was drawing the party’s attention to LAAS using contact data of an NEC member against his explicit instructions. Use of such data when ordered to delete it by their subject is expressly illegal. Furthermore, LAAS‘ attempt to use his request to damage his reputation over social media might also be illegal under defamation laws. Again, Mr Dexter appears to be utterly disinterested in this.
I can only conclude that the Labour complaints team are perfectly comfortable with members of the party being engaged in illegal behaviour when acting in the name of Labour. Given how over-zealous the complaints team are about going after members who criticise Israel, that seems to be a decidedly uneven attitude.
Either that or the complaints team did not pay proper attention to what I wrote.
I shall send a follow-up complaint to the Labour Party soon.
Will you do the same?
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