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Friday, 3 July 2015

Kilburn Calling

Cllr John Duffy has started a blog on Kilburn and Brent Council matters.  I imagine it will be interesting as he develops it.  He makes one accusation which is quite worrying.

He suggests that some one at Brent Council is snooping on Councillor emails.  He doesn't actually prove this in his blogpost.  As I read it, Council officers could have become aware of his correspondence once residents contacted him, but if he is correct, Council officers are operating unethically and possibly illegally.

This is because, as a councillor, John almost certainly has to deal with confidential information belonging to his constituents.  For example, pursuing a housing case might well involve medical or financial details that the constituent can expect to keep private.  It would be reasonable for Cllr Duffy to quote such information to housing officers dealing with the case, but if a member of Brent's IT department were accessing it that strikes me as a breach of confidentiality, and therefore of data protection laws.  I am not sure what the Law says more generally about snooping, but I suspect that John would have a case that his emails can't just be randomly trawled through.

The former, and for all I know, current policy of Brent Council on such matters is that electronic communications can only be monitored if there is "reasonable suspicion" that they are being misused in this way.  I recall this from discussing it with the Borough Solicitor, who was the senior officer responsible at the time. 

Nor is this an abstract issue.  It came up when former Cllr Dhiraj Kataria made false allegations against a colleague, that had to be examined in a lengthy report by a solicitor.  Part of that case (dealt with 3.17 of the Brent Council covering report) referred to an email sent on 23 December to Cllr Paul Lorber.  Cllr Kataria denied sending it and cast aspersions on various colleagues, but these was discovered to be untrue once a technical investigation was ordered.  However, this was only done on 28 March 2012, after Cllr Paul Lorber had failed to answer the question about who had sent the email to him.  The passage in the Solicitor's report dealing with this issue (4.147-4.152) mentions Human Rights protection in a gfeneral way, without going into detail.

I think that if John really believes that his emails are or have been intercepted, he should ask Brent's new Chief Executive to order an investigation, and whoever has been intercepting the communications should be subject to disciplinary action. 

1 comment:

  1. You obviously don't understand technology very well. It was not strictly an interception. The original email was an Outlook meeting invitation. If you forward that, the original initiator is advised of it. Having said that, the way Brent Labour are treating anyone who dares disagree with their dictatorship is disgusting. But your administration were no different. You ttreated those of us who worked for Brent as officers like crap.