Feeds

Lambeth Labour party in email tapping row

Suspends councillor in leak probe

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

The Labour party in Lambeth has been split after it began disciplinary proceedings against one of its councillors on the basis of intercepted emails sent from his council email address.

Kingsley Abrams, a Labour councillor in the South London borough, was suspected of leaking papers to the local press, a charge the veteran left-of-centre local representative vigorously denied.

In a bid to prove these suspicions the Lambeth Labour leader asked council legal officers to take part in a sting operation involving the monitoring of Abrams' emails via his official Lambeth council email address. Abrams was fed spurious information that the chief exec of Lambeth Living had resigned in the hope he would pass it on to the South London Press.

In the event, Abrams forwarded the set-up message to local Labour MP Kate Hoey and not to journalists. Despite the failure of the exercise, Abrams was still suspended at a subsequent Lambeth Labour Party disciplinary hearing, held after May local elections that returned him with an increased majority.

During this disciplinary hearing intercepted emails sent from Abrams' council email account were read out, according to reports (here and here) by well-connected web developer and local blogger Jason Cobb, whose Onionbagblog has covered local politics and sports in the area for more than a decade.

Abrams was suspended from the Labour Party for four months following the 17 May hearing. He plans to appeal to the full London Labour group. In the meantime he retains his seat as a local councillor, sitting as an independent.

"Nu Labour has now obtained so much power within the borough, that it is able to exert pressure on supposedly apolitical council officers to do the dirty work on its behalf," Cobb writes. "If @LambethLabour has no morals in snooping on a party member, who else are they trying to hack into?"

In a statement, Lambeth Council said its actions were above board and, contrary to local reports, Abrams was caught in violation of council email use policy.

A recent discreet investigation was carried out, following concerns of confidential information being leaked, with emails from a handful of officers and members audited to ensure they were adhering to the ICT protocol. It was as a result of this investigation that a councillor was found to be acting in contravention of this policy.

Concerns about the monitoring of emails in the case have been heightened by the reported inclusion in the intercepted emails of a message between two elected representatives, where confidentiality and integrity of communications is essential to the smooth running of local democracy.

We left phone and email messages for Councillor Abrams and Hoey last week. Neither has responded.

But Hoey is furious about the incident, political blog Operation Black Vote reports. “That is pretty dreadful behaviour,” she said. “And a lot of people will be greatly worried.”

"Sources close to Abrams" also expressed their dismay over the handling of the case.

Tapping up

Employment contracts routinely give employers the right to monitor staff emails, to guard against misuse as well as for operational reasons. Whether Lambeth Labour has the authority to monitor Councillor Abrams' council email address is a quite different matter.

Some of the circumstances of the Abrams affair echo a RIPA case involving Cliff Stanford of Demon Internet and Redbus fame.

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
GCHQ protesters stick it to British spooks ... by drinking urine
Activists told NOT to snap pics of staff at the concrete doughnut
Britain's housing crisis: What are we going to do about it?
Rent control: Better than bombs at destroying housing
Top beak: UK privacy law may be reconsidered because of social media
Rise of Twitter etc creates 'enormous challenges'
Redmond resists order to hand over overseas email
Court wanted peek as related to US investigation
What do you mean, I have to POST a PHYSICAL CHEQUE to get my gun licence?
Stop bitching about firearms fees - we need computerisation
Ex US cybersecurity czar guilty in child sex abuse website case
Health and Human Services IT security chief headed online to share vile images
NZ Justice Minister scalped as hacker leaks emails
Grab your popcorn: Subterfuge and slur disrupts election run up
We need less U.S. in our WWW – Euro digital chief Steelie Neelie
EC moves to shift status quo at Internet Governance Forum
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?