Britain’s largest union, Unite challenged Ineos and its public relations agencies to show they had no intention of a ‘cover up’ or of ‘holding the law in contempt’, as it announced it had started High Court action over their continued refusal to release emails and data under the Data Protection Act.
The high court action against Ineos, Media Zoo and Portcullis follows the leak of confidential emails to The Sunday Times and other national newspapers during last year’s Grangemouth dispute.
The union also revealed that it had reported Ineos to the Information Commissioner after its refusal to meet the 28 January 2014 deadline to hand over all emails and data relating to a number of Unite officials.
Similar subject access requests under the Data Protection Act have been ignored by Ineos’ public relations firm Media Zoo and its public affairs agency Portcullis. Both organisations had 40 days until 21 February 2014 to comply, but have refused to release the relevant emails and data in a clear breach of the Data Protection Act.
Under the Data Protection Act, individuals can lodge a subject access request, requesting that a company or organisation release data or information it holds on them.
In responding to the requests Ineos’ position has continually shifted from initial pleas for Unite to drop the requests, to claims that it thought the union was dropping them, through to its current position that it holds no data that needs to be disclosed under the Data Protection Act.
Unite’s Scottish secretary Pat Rafferty, its director of Legal Howard Beckett and former Ineos convenor Stevie Deans have all lodged the subject data access requests in question with Ineos, Media Zoo and Portcullis.
Mark Lyon, the former Unite convenor, who was tried in his absence and sacked by Ineos after 25 years of service, has also demanded that Ineos release data and information held on him by the company. Mr Lyon is currently taking Ineos to an employment tribunal.
Commenting, Unite director of legal affairs Howard Beckett said: “Ineos, Media Zoo and Portcullis all have questions to answer about their actions and how confidential emails found their way into The Sunday Times and other national newspapers.
“If these companies want to avoid suggestions of a cover up and appearing to have a complete disregard for the law, then they need to come clean. The stonewalling by Ineos, Media Zoo and Portcullis begs the question of what have they got to hide?
“No company is above the law and they should be in no doubt that we will pursue every legal option to force them to comply with the law and hand over the information that we, as individuals, are legally entitled to.”
For further information please contact Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869.
Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1
Notes to editors
• Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.