Al Jazeera’s “The Labour Files: The Spying Game” alleges that Labour Councillors used private emails obtained without consent from the account of a local newspaper editor to pursue disciplinary proceedings against other Councillors who had been acting as anonymous sources for the paper’s coverage of the Labour-led council’s activities.
The documentary further alleges that this happened with the knowledge of senior party officials and the local MP. It also raises the possibility that various individuals might have been directly involved in the process of obtaining the private emails, which may have been unlawful.
It was not until proceedings were taken over by a different Councillor that the investigation changed course and more appropriate action was taken, although it is alleged that the Party still failed to notify the police of the allegations of criminality.
The Labour Party has denied involvement in any unlawful activity.
A spokesperson for the IMA said,
“The ability of journalists to protect their sources is paramount in a democratic society, and is essential in encouraging whistleblowers to come forward and share evidence of corruption and wrongdoing with the media.
“Al Jazeera’s allegation, that a major political party acted to compromise the principle of source protection by accessing and using emails exchanged between a journalist and a whistleblower, will be of grave concern to anyone who believes in the freedom of the press.
“In particular, the allegation that this may have occurred with the knowledge of the most senior officials in the Party raises profound questions.
“The IMA urges the Information Commissioner’s Office to investigate the reports and allegations set out in the “Labour Files” documentary in full, which include the even more serious matter of how the emails were obtained.”