9 Aug 2009

Jim Killock banned from Party membership reapplication for five years

'Anger and not a little sadness among Green activists as Jim Killock, once the external communications co-ordinator on the party's national executive and candidate for party chair, is banished to the wilderness for five years. It's all a bit embarrassing. He is the executive director of the Open Rights Group and has much to say about defending the civil liberties of individuals on the internet. Yet the party believes he broke its rules by distributing the details of members to interested colleagues during the hotly contested referendum campaign as to whether the Greens should fall behind a leader. A tribunal was convened. Killock, whose membership lapsed last September, did not take up an offer to participate. In his absence, the regional council decided that there was a prima facie case and upheld it. No word from Jim, despite our calls. He can appeal, we are told, but his only reward would be a reconvened tribunal. Shades of Catch 22. Always possible, of course, that those whose details were passed around will now act against the party itself, and thus officials are keen to be seen taking a tough line against the unauthorised disclosure of data. Closing the stable doors a bit late perhaps, but closing them nonetheless.'

It was obvious in the closing stages of the Green Party referendum on having a single leader that the Party membership lists had been 'misappropriated' and were being used for systematic canvassing, by one side, which was against the rules to say the least!

Without the telephone numbers the pro leader camp would have won anyway, likewise Caroline has been an excellent leader, nevertheless this and similar murky dealings left a bad taste at the time.

After extensive investigation the Tribunal, in addition to Jim who left the party last year being refused a membership reapplication for five years.


To the credit of the pro-leader camp, when it was found out that the more enthusiastic were using the membership records without permission, they put a stop to it and the evidence to the Tribunal members was provided by people involved with the pro-leader camp who did not like this operation.

The assumption from some, at the time, was that the leadership referendum had to be won at any cost because having a leader would transform the Parties chances....this was obvious unrealistic, it was clear to me as Principal Speaker that this wasn't going to suddenly make the Party leap to success. The media like a good story they don't particular care about a different title.

There are obviously some big potential dangers with having a single leader, the symbolism is a bit scary!

Nonetheless Caroline has been excellent and the Party is making reasonable, if not spectacular progress....a fraction of the pro-leader camp disillusioned with what they perceive to be lack of progress and frustrated with Caroline are contesting the GPEX elections this time around.

If they have genuinely better ideas and come out with a statement against the excesses of the Jim era, I think members should give them a hearing....personally I am not going to be voting for them.

Very embarrasing for the Open Rights Group as well.

10 comments:

weggis said...

For a party that prides itself on openness and transparency is it not surprising that we, the membership, learn about such matters via a third party source?

Sue said...

Surely internal disciplinary tribunals, should remain just that - internal? In this case, it seems that someone maliciously leaked this to the Guardian, fully aware that it could cost Jim his job. Vindictive, to say the least.

Matt Wootton said...

Hi Derek - not an entirely fair article. For a start, you say "systematic canvassing ... was against the rules to say the least!". In fact, it wasn't against the rules, at all; I should know; I drafted them. It is true that (due to heavy lobbying from the No to Leadership camp) the party decided to not release membership lists to the two campaigns. But this was done with the full knowledge that plenty of people - such as Jim, and people on the opposite side of the debate to him - quite legitimately and properly had access to membership lists anyway. In my view, this was a terrible flaw in the campaigning rules - because it was always like to lead to these sorts of (politicised) allegations. Next time, the party should put their campaigning on a fair and even playing field, and institute a comprehensive data protection regime that allows for significant contact of and between members, rather than try to scapegoat people like Jim out of spite.
Additionally, the councillor you refer to was not "asked" to take a five year break, and is still a Green Party councillor.

Derek Wall said...

Matt,

did you have access to the stolen membership list?

Members of the pro-leader camp to their credit, put a stop to it, but you seem to think it was find....did you take part?

Anonymous said...

Sue, Weggis, I understand this is also how Jim found out what GPRC had decided. Not an acceptable way to treat anyone, and I hope the leaker will be caught and treated to a fairer, less vindictive process of discipline.

Joseph said...

Firstly, Weggis the report of GPRC and the tribunal was presented to London members at the last London Fed meeting, as it is supposed to be by the GPRC reps for London, and also as it was London Fed which called for the investigation to be held in the first place. Previous tribunals and matters affecting party discipline have always been widely distributed to both regions and via GPRC to conference - so this should appear in the GPRC report to conference. This happened with the Hugo Charlton investigation two years ago and it was widely disseminated within the party, as well as being reported back to the London region by me as the GPRC rep. Your own GPRC reps should report back on this to the relevant region.

Secondly, on Matt's point. I was on GPRC at the time of the regulations and both GPRC and GPEx made it absolutely clear that the national database was not to be used. Apart from the party's own rules, this is a breach of the Data Protection Act, a fact which was flagged up last year in the legal opinion from Bindman's on this issue, the leading civil liberties lawyers, when they made it absolutely clear that members' data cannot be sent out to internal candidates without the permission of those members. This would leave the party, in the form of the relevant officers, open to prosecution by the Data Protection Commissioner.

Also the people who gave evidence to the tribunal were people who had been campaigning on the same side, but who were absolutely clear about the rules and objected to what they saw as a deliberate and premeditated breach of those rules. In fact they protested at the time but were told to shut up.

The councillor referred to resigned from the national party but remains as a councillor by virtue of our strange local members' system, whereby he remains a member of Norwich GP but not of the national party. He cannot apply to rejoin the national party for five years.

There were two other people deeply involved in this activity and they were referred to by the tribunal, albeit not by name. There is concern about these people's actions as well. I imagine that they are well known to Matt.

Derek Wall said...

Matt...I am still keen for an answer to my questions

did you have access to the stolen membership list?

Members of the pro-leader camp to their credit, put a stop to it, but you seem to think it was find....did you take part?

RICHARD ALAN EDWARDS said...

Hi Joseph, i have been told that this is not true about the norwich councillor so if it is true please say who so say its not. Richard Edwards, Norwich.

Joseph said...

Your GPRC rep for Eastern Region should have informed you. The facts are true. I have asked someone in Norwich Green Party to contact you with clarification as I do not want to name names on this open blog. The councillor in question remains a local member.

weggis said...

Joseph
I am a London member and I recieve the London Fed e-newsletters.

Do I have to attend the meetings to be informed of such matters?

Weggis