Islington Council to be sued over alleged data protection breach involving its own councillor

Cllr Gary Doolan

Cllr Gary Doolan - Credit: Archant

Islington council is being sued over an alleged data protection breach – involving one of its own councillors.

Cllr Gary Doolan, also a national GMB boss, this week said his trade union is suing his own council on his behalf – a week after it emerged he threatened the local authority with bin strikes over a family member’s job.

The revelation emerged after it was reported last week how Mr Doolan threatened industrial action over changes to conditions of his brother-in-law’s council job.

In an e-mail to the Gazette Mr Doolan, whose wife and daughter also work for the council, this week said: “My trade union will be suing regarding data protection on my behalf.”

This is because the e-mail containing strike threats, leaked to the Gazette, “breached” data protection laws, he claimed.

He added that his “principles in suing is [sic] to protect organisations like my trade union, residents and employees” who send letters and e-mails to the council.

“I have not asked for any compensation at all. However the information commissioner may fine the council if there has been a breach,” he said.

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When asked whether it would be a good use of taxpayers’ money if his action resulted in the council incurring costs, Mr Doolan added: “I don’t believe it’s right to use taxpayers money when incurring costs, but I also feel that people who write to the council should not have their correspondence end up on the desk of the local newspaper.”

Mr Doolan made it clear that he was acting in his role as a trades union representative, not as a councillor.

Last week we revealed how Mr Doolan threatened disruptive “strike action”, a “ban on overtime” and “no bank holiday working” by refuse and street sweeping workers.

The threat came after he claimed his caretaker brother-in-law, Gary Harris, was being “singled out” over cuts to facility time – the amount of time given off to workers for union business.

Leader of the Lib Dem opposition, Cllr Terry Stacy, has raised the issue with the council’s chief executive, Lesley Seary.

He added: “Pushing for action which could incur costs against your own council – that you’re a councillor of – does seem unusual. Then there’s the extra cost if you also disrupt services.

“The refuse and recycling collection, cleaning and caretaking are among the most visible services to all Islington residents.

“For this union representative to threaten to withdraw them over one employee’s working conditions seems disproportionate.”

On his LinkedIn profile Mr Doolan, councillor for St Peter’s Ward, says he is “driven by improving the lives of others”. Two further council data protection breaches are being dealt with by the data commissioner, he said, neither of which involve himself.

A council spokesperson did not comment on whether it may have breached data protection laws, but said: “Any legal action issued against the council will be looked into by our legal department.”