South Shields Labour Party hit by claims of potential data breach

Emma Lewell-Buck, Labour MP for South Shields.
Emma Lewell-Buck, Labour MP for South Shields.

A row has broken out in the South Shields Labour Party over claims of a potential data breach.

Complaints have been made to the party’s regional HQ after members were sent an email about upcoming events from branch secretary and South Tyneside councillor John Anglin.

South Tyneside Council Leader, Coun Iain Malcolm.

South Tyneside Council Leader, Coun Iain Malcolm.

But instead of being sent from Coun Anglin’s email address, the message was sent from the address of an employee of lobbying firm Sovereign Strategy (SS).

The ‘mistake’ has led to concerns over data security for all members of the South Shields Constituency Labour Party (SSCLP).

Regional party bosses have shut down an investigation just days after being made aware and will not say:

*How many people’s data could have been affected

Coun John Anglin

Coun John Anglin

*Whether they have all been been contacted to inform them of the potential breach

*Whether anyone affected has received an apology

South Tyneside councillor Angela Hamilton said: “I think it’s a non-response. They’ve done absolutely nothing.

“The complaint went in on Friday and the response came back yesterday so there’s been no full investigation. They haven’t considered the impact on individuals.

She added: “I think everyone linked to Sovereign Strategy and the Labour Party should be suspended for a thorough investigation.”

She was was backed by South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck, who said: “I’m angry the investigation has been shut down and I’m angry with what’s happened to the data.”

Sovereign Strategy, which has offices in South Shields, London and Brussels, lists its executive chairman and deputy chairman as Alan Donnelly and Coun Iain Malcolm, respectively.

Ex-MEP Mr Donnelly is also the chairman of South Shields Constituency Labour Party, while Mr Malcolm is the Labour leader of South Tyneside Council.

Joel Gladwin, the employee whose email address was used to send the email, is listed on the company’s website as a former staffer for Conservatives IN, a pro-EU Conservative Party campaign group.

Coun Anglin said: “Joel Gladwin is really good on computers, I was having trouble with mine and I was trying to find out how to send the but I sent it with his email and not mine.”

Coun Malcolm refused to comment on the row and Mr Gladwin has not responded to requests for comment sent by email.

Labour Party statement said ‘the people involved’ had accepted responsibility and would be given extra training.

A spokesperson said: “As soon as we were alerted to this incident we suspended all access to data in this area and undertook a full investigation.

“We believe this to be a one off limited sharing of data and have sought and received assurances that the data in question has been destroyed.”

The Information Commissioner has also been alerted and is investigating. 

James Harrison

James Harrison , Local Democracy Reporting Service