Feeds

Lambeth email sting councillor rejoins local Labour group

Naughty step time served

Mobile application security vulnerability report

A Lambeth councillor has been allowed back into the Labour Party following a controversial email sting operation that left him excluded from the party for the last four months.

Kingsley Abrams, a veteran Labour councillor in the South London borough, was first accused of leaking confidential papers to a south London newspaper in January, an accusation he has consistently denied. The Lambeth Labour leader, Steve Reed, asked politically neutral council officers to run a entrapment operation in March that involved monitoring emails sent via Abrams' official Lambeth council email address.

Abrams was fed the false rumour that the chief exec of Lambeth Living, which manages council housing, had resigned, in the hope he would forward the information to journalists at the South London Press. Even though Abrams did nothing of the sort, and only forwarded the false announcement to local MP Kate Hoey, he was still accused of impropriety and suspended for four months from the Labour Party.

All these shenanigans, in the run-up to May elections, didn't stop Abrams getting himself re-elected with an increased majority by local voters. Abrams was suspended a couple of weeks later and has sat as an independent since. A June appeal failed so Abrams has been obliged to sit out the full term of his suspension on the Lambeth town hall naughty steps.

The suspension expired on Friday, allowing Abrams to be (grudgingly) welcomed back into the bosom of the local Labour party.

The circumstances of the suspension have been carefully chronicled by South London politics and community blog Onion Bag Blog and local media, as well as El Reg. Abrams has strenuously denied any impropriety throughout and no evidence to suggest otherwise has ever emerged.

Despite this a "welcome back" note from Labour states that Abrams has admitted leaking council material to the LibDems.

Abrams, a Labour activist for the last 32 years, casts an unlikely figure as a LibDem mole and Labour's statement appears to be an attempt to re-write history rather than drawing a line under the affair. Even though Abrams has returned to the political fold he is unlikely to give council bosses an easy ride, as Onion Bag Blog's Jason Cobb explains.

"There is quite simply nowhere else for Councillor Abrams to align himself, other than the Labour party," Cobb writes. "He believes in fighting the ConDem cuts, rather than rolling out public sector redundancies, as proposed by the Nu Labour twonks within his local party.

"Councillor Abrams is pledging to campaign for all housing maintenance in the borough to be brought back in house. With the collapse of Connaught leaving Lambeth Living looking even sillier, Councillor Abrams has been telling his ward constituents that further privatisation is not the answer to Lambeth’s shameful public housing state of affairs."

Lambeth Council has defended its handling of the affair. It told El Reg in June that Abrams was found in violation of council email use policy following a "recent discreet investigation". Its statement at the time only referred to unspecified third parties.

We fully embrace the practice of openness and transparency in local government, however both officers and councillors are prohibited from disclosing without appropriate authority confidential information to third parties, and this is reinforced in the council's protocol governing the use of IT.

That is why we - as is standard practice amongst both the public and private sector in complying with the government's information Security Standards - have an ICT protocol restricting what can and cannot be sent to third parties. This protocol applies to both staff and members and is expressly referred to when logging on to the Council's system to avoid any ambiguity.

Where we suspect any non compliance by any officer or member there is an unqualified right to investigate the use of the council's IT systems which is sanctioned by the council's internal audit team.

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.

The case raises uncomfortable questions about the willingness of supposedly neutral local council officials to authorise wiretapping on questionable grounds, months after ministers restricted the power of local authorities in this area, following incidents of abuse. ®

Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
Adam Afriyie MP: Smart meters are NOT so smart
Mega-costly gas 'n' 'leccy totting-up tech not worth it - Tory MP
'Blow it up': Plods pop round for chat with Commonwealth Games tweeter
You'd better not be talking about the council's housing plans
Arrr: Freetard-bothering Digital Economy Act tied up, thrown in the hold
Ministry of Fun confirms: Yes, we're busy doing nothing
ONE EMAIL costs mining company $300 MEEELION
Environmental activist walks free after hoax sent share price over a cliff
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
Apple smacked with privacy sueball over Location Services
Class action launched on behalf of 100 million iPhone owners
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
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.
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.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.