LabourLeaks: will party leaders take disciplinary action while inquiry is ongoing?

The scope of an investigation into the leaked Labour report on a right-wing faction’s interference will not stop party members being suspended and investigated for improper behaviour, it seems.

So it is entirely possible for Keir Starmer and his team to suspend the memberships of all those who are named as responsible for misconduct in their roles as party officers, investigate what happened alongside the investigation into the report, and finally expel them if necessary.

The investigation’s full terms of reference have yet to be published but a LabourList report states that:

  • “The inquiry does not preclude disciplinary action by the party… the new leadership team was not trying to discourage such action from being taken by the party in line with normal processes, and in fact “they’re encouraged” to do so.”
  • The person who leaked the report will be protected as a whistleblower. A Momentum spokesperson said: “While the report should not have been leaked unredacted, Labour is Britain’s largest political party and the contents were clearly in the public interest. Labour’s half a million members deserved to know what was happening at the top of their party, and those involved in bringing these actions to light must not be penalised.”
  • Sources say the independent investigation will not focus on the leaking of the report in terms of identifying the leaker(s), though how and why the leak occurred will be considered.

Of course, both Starmer and deputy leader Angela Rayner have said they support introducing an independent complaints system.

For the benefit of Labour members: this means the party, as data controller, would pass your personal details to somebody completely unconnected with it, who you may not wish to have information about you, without consulting you about it and without asking your consent. This runs contrary to the Data Protection Act.

A majority vote in Conference will not be enough to give the party legal justification for such a move. It will have to gain the consent of every single party member – and if just one of you refuses to allow it, then the party will be acting illegally in doing it.

That’s the law.

This Site will continue to report on this matter as developments continue to take place.

Source: Labour’s ruling body agrees scope of investigation into leaked report – LabourList

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9 Thoughts to “LabourLeaks: will party leaders take disciplinary action while inquiry is ongoing?”

  1. SteveH

    Mike – I think you may be mistaken about the data sharing with a properly constituted external disciplinary body. My reading of it is that as long as the Labour Party set up a data sharing agreement with this external body then there wouldn’t be a problem.

    1. Mike Sivier

      I think not. It is a change to the agreement by which party members allow the organisation to have and use their data. They would have to agree to it and if a single member refused, then it could not happen.

      1. SteveH

        The scenario you have highlighted above is why the concept of ‘Data Sharing Agreements’ was written into the legislation.

        If you take a look at Labour’s published privacy and data protection agreement you may note that whilst they specifically state that members details will not be passed to third parties for marketing purposes they also make provision for data to be processed by third parties as long as this use is covered by a Data Sharing Agreement (which has the effect of extending Labour’s rules on data use to the third party).

        Without these provisions the sharing of data with outside organisation (even for stuff like mail-shots) would be, as you rightly point out, be impractical for any organisation. Hence the provision in the legislation for DSAs.

      2. Mike Sivier

        Labour doesn’t share information for mail-shots – or didn’t when I was a member. We did all that work ourselves. And I don’t recall ever being shown the party’s privacy and data sharing agreement when applying for or renewing my membership. Maybe the matter has changed but I don’t recall any reports about it. If the party bosses have slid this through without actually telling anyone, they will also be in breach of the Act.

      3. SteveH

        Mike – The example of the third party processing of mailshots was only given as an easily understood example of legitimate third party data processing so whether the party does or doesn’t is irrelevant. However it is quite clear (if one digs around just a little) that under the Labour Party’s published ‘Information Governance Policy’ that there is already a provision for properly regulated data sharing with third party organisations. https://labour.org.uk/information-governance-policy/. I strongly suspect that the new adjudication body will actually turn out to be some sort of arms length independent organisation

        Data Sharing
        8.1 Data must only be used for purposes which correspond with the associated lawful processing condition for that data.
        8.2 Data sharing must not occur unless there is a legal obligation or sound lawful purpose for such sharing. The justification for any intended sharing of data must be assessed by the Data Controller and Data Protection Officer. This assessment must take into account any relevant consent models or processing conditions associated with the data and any intended sharing must be compliant with the organisation’s privacy statement.
        8.3 Where the Data Controller has deemed that there is a lawful basis for the sharing of data, a data sharing agreement must be put in place between the Labour Party and the third party organisation.
        8.4 In all circumstances the unlawful and unauthorised sharing of Labour Party data is expressly prohibited. Any unauthorised sharing of Labour Party data will be classified as a data breach and be reported to the ICO according to the provisions around Data breach reporting detailed in this policy.

        As to whether you have agreed to these provisions I guess like everyone else you will have ticked a ‘terms and conditions’ box or similar when you’ve renewed your membership without first ploughing through all the legalese. Any transparency issues regarding rule changes or changes in data protection provisions are covered by the freely accessible publication of the Labour Party Rule Book and additional publications such as the Information Governance Policy linked to above.

        From a personal perspective I would much prefer that these proposed changes to the disciplinary procedures were endorsed by a full ballot of the membership after a full and open debate because this would give a very clear mandate for the changes and hopefully shine a much needed light on any back-room deals. The processes of reaching an ‘agreement’ at conference are infamously opaque.

        However having said the above it has to be acknowledged that it would be difficult to make a cogent argument that Labour Conference doesn’t have the authority to change the rule book to make provision for a third party to adjudicate over disciplinary processes. As the party has a recognised ‘democratic’ (if flawed) procedure for conference to change things I don’t think that the idea that a rule change could be blocked by a single dissenting voice is a realistic proposition. (particularly as the provision for data sharing is already there).

        I suspect the reality will be that any pleas for a full and frank debate endorsed by a full membership vote will be ignored and that once it had been passed by conference then members who are still vehemently opposed to the changes will have 2 choices, acquiesce or leave.

      4. Mike Sivier

        I can’t recall ticking a terms and conditions box or having any legalese to plough through. Perhaps they’ve changed it since I joined in 2010. If so – and the party didn’t notify me of the changes properly, then that is a breach of data protection law.

        As you know, I am currently in a legal battle with the Labour Party over its unauthorised decision to share (false) information about me with third parties in the national press, so I can’t agree that the party has any credibility as a responsible data processor.

        Your comments about the party conference reveal what I think is probably a common misconception about the way the party is constituted. Members must agree explicitly to all the rules and conditions that will be applied to them, as part of the contract between them and the party. Those conditions cannot be imposed on them by the party conference.

        But I share your suspicion about the reality. I suspect the reality will be that anybody who doesn’t want their information offered up to an outside organisation that may have a dodgy pedigree will vote with their feet and leave the organisation. Then the right-wingers will have an easy win as the people most likely to leave with be left-wingers who are likely to be persecuted in any case.

      5. SteveH

        Apparently we have all been deemed to have ‘signed the pledge’ whenever we renew our membership. This may well be true because to be honest I’ve not taken that much notice.

        Member’s Pledge
        In joining the party, every member agrees to our Member’s Pledge, which you can read in full below. Members agree to act within the spirit and rules of the Labour Party, which can be read in full in our rule book, and our codes of conduct – all of which can be found below. These rights and responsibilities are of the utmost importance and are reviewed regularly by the NEC; the Labour Party’s ruling body.

        I pledge to act within the spirit and rules of the Labour Party in my conduct both on and offline, with members and non-members and I stand against all forms of abuse.
        I understand that if found to be in breach of the Labour Party policy on online and offline abuse, I will be subject to the rules and procedures of the Labour Party.

        https://labour.org.uk/members/my-welfare/my-rights-and-responsibilities/

      6. Mike Sivier

        Perhaps all Labour members need to take more interest and decide just how much consent they should allow the party leadership to assume.

  2. My thoughts and prayers are with the person who brought this into the light. Being the person who exposes any level of corruption, within the systems we as the public are expected to trust and believe in, is not only a difficult thing to do but inherently dangerous. My sincere prayer is that “protected” doesn’t become an Edward Snowden situation for them.

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