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Welsh Labour councillor quits party after learning it hid evidence that cleared him of complaint

15 Jun 2024 6 minute read
Former Carmarthenshire Labour leader Rob James. Photo Rob Dalling

Martin Shipton

A former council Labour group leader who was barred from standing in the general election has quit the party after learning that it has concealed evidence that should have cleared him of a complaint made against him.

Carmarthenshire county councillor Rob James was the favourite to win nomination as the Labour candidate for the new seat of Caerfyrddin.

But the party selection process was halted to remove him from the contest when a complaint was raised.

Now, in an email to Labour councillors in Carmarthenshire, Cllr James has revealed that he has resigned from the party after the Information Commissioner’s Office confirmed that it had cleared him of a data breach four months ago, but that the Labour Party had sat on the outcome.

Suspended

In his letter, Cllr James wrote: “As you will know, I was suspended as your group leader and from the Labour Party 20 weeks ago. During this time, I have actively sought to respond to the two allegations presented to me, yet we are now at the stage where I feel obligated to share with you the full details.

“On January 25, I was contacted by a colleague to state that he had received a letter from HQ to state that I had been suspended. I received a letter myself from the party the next day with two allegations, namely that I had used Contact Creator [party software] to download an electoral register for the Member of Parliament for Swansea West (who I work for) and the second being a text that I sent to a Plaid councillor in early 2023.

“Please note that I had been sanctioned for the text message last year when the party blocked me from being the candidate for Caerfyrddin in the general election, so it was mainly the data breach that required a response. I sent a detailed response to the party on both allegations on February 7.

“Since this date, I have contacted the Compliance Unit on no fewer than eight occasions requesting an update on when the National Executive Committee would consider my case; I have been in correspondence with the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party; I have been in correspondence with the General Secretary of Welsh Labour; and I have been in dialogue with two NEC members to request support.

“The message I have constantly received back is that they are investigating the matter, awaiting a response from the Information Commissioner’s Office (on the breach), that there was no backlog of complaints that the NEC were working on, and that they will present a report to the NEC as soon as possible.

“I also spoke to the Information Commissioner’s Office on three occasions to check that my actions were not in breach of GDPR – on every occasion it was stated that I had done nothing wrong.

“Now the conditions placed on me during my suspension were that I couldn’t attend Labour branch/CLP [constituency Labour Party] meetings, couldn’t attend Labour group meetings, couldn’t be in any WhatsApp or Facebook groups relating to the Labour Party, couldn’t talk about my suspension with others, and most frustrating of all, I was barred from sitting on any council committee (essentially preventing me from being an active councillor).

“All the while, it was stated that I must continue to pay the party hundreds of pounds and comply with the Labour whip with no ability to play an active role. Having spoken with Members of Parliament, councillors and members across the UK that had been suspended by the party in the last two years, I have been unable to find a single case where such draconian measures have been placed on another member.”

Mental impact

He added: “The mental impact during the last 20 weeks has been tremendous. I was already aware that I was losing my job when the general election was called and then I lost my role as the group leader, yet the worst part was being unable to talk with you about what was going on, not being able to work closely with you and not being able to socialise with my friends in the party during this time – it’s been frankly awful.

“As a last ditch attempt to try and get a resolution, I made a subject access request last month to the Information Commissioner’s Office to find out why there was a delay on my case. Yesterday I finally received a response to the ICO where it is stated that they had informed the Labour Party on the February 7 that there was no case to answer on the alleged data breach. I am more than happy to share the ICO subject access request with any of you.

“For the last 18 weeks, the party that I have given much of my adult life to has been lying to me stating that they were investigating a matter that had been cleared. I have been told privately that the party has no intention of dealing with the complaint and that they were keeping me in limbo hoping that I would quit. For whatever reason, it is clear to me that I have upset the hierarchy in the Labour Party somehow and they have sought to damage my reputation, my livelihood and that of my children and family, my mental health and prevent me from being a councillor.

“Well those in the party that have carried out this campaign against me have succeeded and I have no option but to now leave a party that I once loved.

“I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for all your friendship and your tremendous work as elected members over the years. It has truly been an honour to have worked with you all and a privilege to have led Carmarthenshire Labour for almost seven years. I wish you the best in the future.”

The text message sent by Cllr James to a Plaid councillor wrongly implied that Llanelli Labour MS Lee Waters had two “second homes” that he didn’t live in..

Labour has been asked to comment.


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Lee Waters MS
Lee Waters MS
1 month ago

For the avoidance of doubt the claim that I have multiple homes in Llanelli is completely untrue. To do this job I live in two places, just like every person who has ever represented the constituency, so I have two homes I pay for myself (but claim for some utilities for one of them) – that’s it.

Welsh Patriot
Welsh Patriot
29 days ago
Reply to  Lee Waters MS

I thought you were so sick you were unable to vote last week, even to be able vote online or by proxy?
So many congrats on the speedy recovery!!

Valley girl
Valley girl
29 days ago
Reply to  Lee Waters MS

It’s English Labour trying to destroy Welsh Labour/ beware.

Riki
Riki
29 days ago
Reply to  Valley girl

That literally makes no sense as it would drive people into the arms of PC! That’s last thing English Labour would want.

Annibendod
Annibendod
29 days ago
Reply to  Riki

And yet their officials were discussing how to move Vaughan Gething on and install their preferred candidate as Welsh Labour leader and First Minister …

Last edited 29 days ago by Annibendod
Riki
Riki
29 days ago
Reply to  Annibendod

I’m not disagreeing with the premise, I’m disagreeing with the reasoning as to why they would do it? English Labour surely loves Welsh Labour, such is the boot licking done by them! Could Vaughan Gething be secretly Pro Independence?

Annibendod
Annibendod
29 days ago
Reply to  Lee Waters MS

Lee, fel Beth, dwi’n cael y teimlad dy fod ti yn y blaid anghywir. Mae’r ffordd dy fod ti wedi gael dy drin yn eistedd yn gwael gyda fi. Be am wneud y naid? Byse ti a Rhodri Davies yn tîm go lew dros y dre gyda’ch gilydd. Nag yw e’n amser am newid?

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

Guy (Call me Dave) Fawkes, who dragged 350 million barrels of gunpowder into the Palace of Westminster and CCHQ, wags his finger at a racist spiv, forgetting his mates Fat Shanks and Sniveling Gove…

Suspicion and mistrust are the oxygen of Brexit and the criminal infestation of Downing Street and its Vicinity…

Last edited 1 month ago by Mab Meirion
Evan Aled Bayton
Evan Aled Bayton
1 month ago

Not really surprising. Another reason not to vote Labour at the election although I really don’t know who to vote for. This kind of tawdry corrupt nastiness is a feature of the Labour Party.

John Ellis
John Ellis
29 days ago

This kind of tawdry corrupt nastiness is a feature of the Labour Party.’

As it was in Welsh Labour’s past as well, unfortunately.

Adrian Bamford
Adrian Bamford
1 month ago

I’m frequently given to wonder what it’ll take for the scales to finally drop from the eyes of devout Welsh Labour supporters.

Yuri Nator
Yuri Nator
29 days ago

You learn a lot about how they treat people in their “inner circle.” The recent cases of former Labour councillors Owen Griffiths (Vale of Glamorgan) and Sue White (Cardiff) spring to mind. They were on the receiving end of shabby treatment from their Labour groups. It’s completely wrong to sit on an outcome that’s exonerated someone of a wrongdoing for months on end let alone a week. Goes against principles of natural justice but it’s also just morally objectionable. Listen to Gething’s interesting choice of words just this week about Hannah Blythyn and Lee Waters, who has purportedly commented on… Read more »

David
David
29 days ago

Those Labour members/councillors should show their displeasure with Labour HQ by urging their followers to vote Plaid Cymru.

Valley girl
Valley girl
29 days ago

Rob, put your energies into a Welsh Independence. 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿

Valley girl
Valley girl
29 days ago

Starmer thought he had Wales controlled via VG. Now that VG will be ousted , Starmer has gone into overdrive trying to control Wales Labour. Don’t understand why Wales Labour don’t just join Plaid and launch Independence as after all that’s what everyone wants.

Last edited 29 days ago by Valley girl
Ron Puma
Ron Puma
29 days ago
Reply to  Valley girl

During the UK election that’s to be understood. No-one should want the Cons turning half truths and innuendo about Wales and Welsh Labour into ammunition for their England campaign. It’s what happens if London Labour are elected that really matters.

Owain Glyndŵr
Owain Glyndŵr
29 days ago

I was considering holding my nose and voting for Labour in the forthcoming UK GE, but this along with a few other things have reminded me of the stench coming from the red rosette. I will be voting Lib Dems or for a strong Independent in my constituency. FTR they were weighing the votes in my constituency for Labour in 2019. So, as usual, my vote will NOT count towards the overall result. I may as well spoil my ballot paper, but I can’t bring myself to do that. I hate FPTP! I hate the Tories and I hate Labour!!… Read more »

Last edited 29 days ago by Owain Glyndŵr
CapM
CapM
29 days ago
Reply to  Owain Glyndŵr

Why wouldn’t you vote Plaid Cymru?

Llywelyn Tyswysog Gwynedd
Llywelyn Tyswysog Gwynedd
29 days ago
Reply to  Owain Glyndŵr

Not quite sure what Owain G would make of your direction of voting travel ?

I could guess though 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿

Richard Davies
Richard Davies
29 days ago

What happened to councillor Rob James wasn’t an isolated case. There have been many labour party members that have suffered the same, the highest profile case being Diane Abbott, but most have done the same as Mr James and resigned from the party.

Vote Plaid Cymru.
(If you are in Yr Alban vote SNP
If you are in lloegr vote Green Party)

Evan
Evan
29 days ago
Reply to  Richard Davies

As I understood it there were numerous complaints about his behaviour and sharp practice. He’s jumped before he was pushed and is trying to make himself look virtuous in the process

Annibendod
Annibendod
29 days ago
Reply to  Evan

Apparently so. I’d be wary of this one. Lee, I think is a principled man. I don’t always agree with him but I do respect his stance on many matters. Rob, I’m less sure of … a person’s reputation does tend to go before them.

Riki
Riki
29 days ago

And will this be highlighted by Welsh news, oh my mistake, English news masquerading as being for Wales and about Wales. Ofcourse not because this will drive a lot of voters to a party that seeks independence. Which shows exactly who and what the UK media serves, England first and England last. Wales and Scotland aren’t even afterthoughts!

Dewi
Dewi
27 days ago

It seems that UK Labour and its Welsh section under Starmer are McCarthyites and do not tolerate any divergence from the Party Line.Possibly taking a leaf from Boris Johnson’s removal of Tory M.P.s who did not follow his line. Another dictatorship by the executive replacing the current corrupt system – so the establishment will truly be happy with changing of the guard but no real change.

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