It’s all going wrong at The Sunday Times, where its investigation – if you can call it that – into anti-Semitism at the Labour Party should soon have a nasty collision with the law of the land.
Today’s (April 14) revelation is that Labour MP Margaret Hodge took a leaf from the Jewish Labour Movement’s playbook and secretly recorded a meeting with Jeremy Corbyn.
She then passed the recording on to Sunday Times reporters Richard Kerbaj, Gabriel Pogrund (him again!) and Tim Shipman in a clear breach of s.170 of the Data Protection Act 2018.
It is a criminal offence for a person knowingly to obtain personal data without the consent of the controller, to retain it without the consent of the person who was the data controller when it was obtained, and to disclose it to another person without the consent of the controller.
Ms Hodge appears to be guilty of all three, along with the Sunday Times and its reporters.
As the recording contains no information that could be said to show wrongdoing on the part of Mr Corbyn, its creation and distribution may not be said to be in the public interest.
Wait – what? The story is about Mr Corbyn not doing enough to tackle anti-Semitism?
Don’t make me laugh.
The content of the illegal recording makes it clear that, having strengthened procedures in the wake of Jennie Formby’s accession to the position of general secretary, Mr Corbyn had become concerned that “evidence was being either mislaid, ignored or not used”.
The Sunday Times reporters have tried to imply that this is evidence of anti-Semitism by Labour Party members, but that is not what Mr Corbyn said.
He did not elaborate on the nature of the evidence in question.
It may be evidence that exonerates Labour Party members of any anti-Semitism allegations.
As a victim of the Labour Party’s bastardised and useless disciplinary procedures, I can affirm that they treat members accused of anti-Semitism on the basis that such people are guilty – and procedures are followed that do everything possible to prevent any proof of innocence being heard.
In my opinion, this would include evidence being “mislaid, ignored or not used”.
And let us not forget that the Labour Party is already a criminal organisation under the terms of the Data Protection Act, having failed to honour my Subject Access Request of February 2018, after a story falsely alleging that I was an anti-Semite appeared in the Sunday Times and other newspapers.
That evidence could have been a vital part of my defence against the charges the party was lining up against me – but Labour Party officers illegally withheld it.
Therefore it seems clear that Mr Corbyn has a strong case for believing party officers have acted wrongly.
The course of action open to the Labour leadership is clear. Legal proceedings under the Data Protection Act should be lodged against the Sunday Times and its individual reporters – Messrs Kerbaj, Pogrund and Shipman – and againt Ms Hodge. Her membership of the Labour Party must be suspended with a view to expulsion.
That is the only logical course of action in response to abuse of the law of this kind.
But, considering the Labour leadership’s record of pandering to bullies like Hodge, I won’t hold my breath waiting.
UPDATE: According to a commenter (see below), the data protection laws apply only to personal information like name, address, date of birth and so on. This does not ring true. Under the General Data Protection Regulations – and the Data Protection Act 2018, personal data is any information that is clearly about a particular person – such as, in this case, the opinions of Jeremy Corbyn. So the people and organisation named above are in a highly actionable position.
To put the cap on it, a Labour representative has contacted at least one of the reporters, stating: “The recording released by Margaret Hodge contains personal data of two individuals, neither of whom has consented to its recording, disclosure or other processing. Because of the political context, the data is special category personal data under the GDPR and DPA 2018. The Sunday Times‘ making use of the content of the recording is further processing for which the paper has no consent, nor does any relevant exception under Party 5 of Schedule 2 to the DPA apply.”
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