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Scottish Labour investigate reported breach of data regulations by party’s former deputy leader

by Niall Christie

Scotland editor

SCOTTISH LABOUR is investigating a reported breach of data regulations by the party’s former deputy leader. 

A number of complaints have been made against Glasgow MSP Anas Sarwar regarding his conduct in ongoing regional candidate selections for this year’s Holyrood election. 

Labour members in Glasgow raised concerns last week about the use of personal information by Mr Sarwar in a social media advertising campaign promoting his candidacy for the parliamentary list selections. 

Public information available on Facebook’s advert library shows a number of ads paid for by Mr Sarwar make use of party supporters’ personal email addresses to target ads on social media. 

Most of the promotional material has since been taken down by Mr Sarwar, but the series of adverts include one which remained active on Sunday, two days after the issue was first raised. 

The advert was targeted at supporters using an email list, uploaded in June 2020, despite candidates only being supplied with the phone numbers of local members. 

The complaints made cite a potential “unfair advantage” gained by the supposed breach of data rules.

The Morning Star understands Labour’s governance and legal unit is currently looking into the allegations, which the MSP strongly denies, saying the information used was held as part of his elected role. 

A spokesman for Mr Sarwar said: “There was no data breach as Anas holds members’ data in his role as an MSP for Glasgow.

“There was a minor administrative error when a Facebook advert was posted, which was corrected as soon as the issue was raised.

“While a minority in the party choose to spend their time trying to smear Anas, he chooses to focus on improving lives for people in Glasgow.”

Candidates for the ongoing list selections were asked in December by Scottish Labour’s deputy general secretary to sign an agreement committing candidates to comply with the Labour Party’s code of conduct on data protection. 

This warned those who sign it that they could be subject to legal complaints, and also asked candidates to acknowledge that any breaches of the party’s code of conduct on data protection would see them “subject to the disciplinary rules and procedures of the party.”

The Scottish Labour Party declined to comment on the investigation.

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