Labour leadership candidate Sir Keir Starmer’s campaign team has denied accusations that they hacked into the party’s membership database, dismissing the claims as “utter nonsense”.
Sir Keir’s team responded after the Labour party formally reported two of its members to the Information Commissioner’s Office, including the campaign's head of compliance.
Sir Keir himself wrote to the party to deny all allegations, adding that his team investigated a method of gaining access to the party membership database without meaning to use it.
Chair of Sir Keir’s campaign, Jenny Chapman, insisted that nobody on the team had the “capacity” to hack the party database.
Chapman told BBC Radio Five Live: "It's a very serious accusation and that is why I am here to defend it.
"This isn't even a situation where you say 'some over-enthusiastic young volunteers may have done it'. It didn't happen.”
Notably, the allegations have surfaced following similar claims surrounding the campaign of Sir Keir's leadership rival, Rebecca Long-Bailey.
Long-Bailey’s campaign is said to have provided volunteers with links which granted access to the party’s phone banks, allegations which Chapman said Sir Keir's campaign had written to the Labour party about.
Chapman said: "We wrote to the Labour Party... and we thought that was the end of it as far as we were concerned. And the next thing you know, a couple of people on our campaign get letters saying 'actually we think you have done something wrong’.
"Labour members want a fair contest. Whoever decided to send these threatening letters to people on the Starmer campaign and then leak it to the BBC are not really doing the Labour Party or their preferred candidate any favours."
All leadership candidates who reach the final ballot in the contest will be entitled to access personal details of the wider party membership and its registered supporters, and the party has now written to all contenders to "remind them of their obligations under the law and to seek assurances that membership data will not be misused”.
Labour added that it "takes its legal responsibilities for data protection - and the security and integrity of its data and systems - extremely seriously", and wants guarantees from leadership candidates that any information disclosed will be lawfully processed and remain securely stored before it is handed over.