Scarborough Council has referred itself to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) after CVs from applications for its chief executive role were apparently leaked to a third party.
Cllr Bill Chatt, the leader of the Cluster of Independent Members group, said an investigation has now been launched into the potential data leak but he hit out at the council for the delay in referring itself.
In a heated exchange, first with council leader Cllr Steve Siddons (Lab), Cllr Chatt said he made the authority aware of the potential breach of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in May but that a referral by the council to the commissioner was only made last month.
Cllr Chatt said he had previously been stopped from raising his concerns in council meetings.
He said: “I have been threatened with legal action, I have been stopped by all in the council and as far as I can tell three separate investigations have been carried out but I am still denied my right to raise this question.
“The question I want to ask is who shared information from the selection panel for the appointment for a new CEO to a third party and why did Scarborough Council not report itself following an email I sent on May 2 this year to the Information Commissioner’s Office? I am aware this has been reported now.”
He accused Cllr Siddons of doing “absolutely nothing” to address his concerns over the leak.
In response Cllr Siddons said the five members of the selection committee for the new chief executive, which was made up of Cllr Siddons, Cllr Tony Randerson (Lab), Cllr Derek Bastiman and Cllr Helen Mallory (both Con) and former Conservative councillor Sandra Turner, who lost her seat in May’s local election, had all publicly denied passing on any information to a third party.
Cllr Chatt also clashed with the former leader of the council, Cllr Derek Bastiman, who accused his former cabinet member of identifying him “outside of the chamber” of being the source of the leak.
Cllr Bastiman said: “I am getting sick and heartily fed up of your accusations, in inverted commas. In the previous meeting, you accused me and you have accused me outside this chamber of asking of a copy of the CVs. All five of us were given copies of the CVs and returned them.”
Cllr Chatt denied he had accused Cllr Bastiman.
He added: “Information was given to a third party, I have evidence of that and it can only have come from the five members. Somebody has leaked this information and somebody needs to be responsible for it. If you don’t like it you’ll have to lump it.”
Cllr Bastiman responded: “I will not take that from you.”
The Mayor of the council, Cllr Hazel Lynskey, said that Cllr Chatt would be given an answer to his questions by chief executive Michael Greene, who started his job in August following a selection process which started in February.
The Mayor also told the councillors it was not a matter to be discussed during the meeting.
Following the meeting, Cllr Chatt confirmed to the Local Democracy Reporting Service that the council had referred itself to the ICO last month.
It is the second reported leak from Scarborough Council after some financial documents relating to the authority’s plan to borrow £22m to fund a town centre regeneration project appeared online.
North Yorkshire Police is currently investigating that matter.