Coffee House

Tories accidentally leak campaign database

3 June 2014

The Conservatives have accidentally emailed a database of their activists’ details to other members, Coffee House has learned. The database, called ‘volunteer record NEWARK’ was accidentally attached to a generic thank you email for those campaigning in the by-election, and contained the email addresses of activists and MPs who had signed in at a certain station in the constituency.

Sent from a generic email address belonging to the Tory chairman, the email thanked activists for visiting Newark, and asked them to continue campaigning by visiting the constituency again on polling day or making calls to voters from home or CCHQ. The database was attached at the bottom.


This isn’t a major data leak: the email addresses of the MPs involved are often publicly available anyway and the email was halted as soon as the mistake was noticed. A Tory source says:

‘A member of the correspondence team made an administrative error, with an email that was sent to a small number of Conservative activists.’

But the activists named in the database did not agree to their details being shared. One activist who contacted Coffee House about the leak said:

‘It’s concerning that in the absence of any consent my email address, along with hundreds of others, has been shared with what I’d reckon to be around a thousand strangers, in an email signed by a cabinet minister. Obviously CC/BCC screw-ups happen from time to time, but the way this was done is just peculiar.’

The Tories have been having other data problems recently. Some constituencies found that when the party’s rather temperamental Merlin voter data system updated with the latest details of the electoral roll in their area, thousands of records disappeared because local authorities had changed some of their data fields. Only those who had backed up their data were able to recover entries on voting intention from hours of canvassing, which has led to some grumbles among those running campaigns in marginal seats where this kind of data really matters. There’s not much the party can do, though, given it’s information coming from local authorities, but it won’t stop gripes about Merlin, which does look set to run into the General Election.

More Spectator for less. Subscribe and receive 12 issues delivered for just £12, with full web and app access. Join us now.

  • Aberrant_Apostrophe

    Bah. It was a deliberate ploy to con the public into believing they have more than twenty party members.

  • Mynydd

    Just think what Mr Cameron/Duncan Smith can do with the universal credit scheme and its data base. No doubt they have lined up a pal to sell it to, just to save money of course.

  • right_writes

    Just as an insurance policy, the chairman has hired the “Dhaka vote counting equipment”, to ensure fairness on election day.

  • evad666
  • Kitty MLB

    Well mistakes happen sometimes. Just like having Grant Shapps
    as party chairman. No one needs to act so smug thought.
    Such as life.

  • Chingford Man

    I bet Jenrick has several email addresses.

    • MirthaTidville

      Apparantly he has several high quality postal addresses as well

  • Liberty

    They can regard this election as a dry run for others including the GE. If it doesn’t happen again then no problem.

  • Smithersjones2013

    It’s like going back to the 1980’s in IT practices terms and they have the temerity to ridicule UKIP. Priceless………

    Of course it won’t bother a good number of Tory constituencies because I’m sure its more than just mine that hasn’t bothered to canvas in at least 15 years in fact I don’t think they canvassed back in the 80’s either)

  • the viceroy’s gin

    …well, as long it’s just Camerluvvie members, it’s not a very big data breach, then.

  • Rhoda Klapp8

    In other news, George Osborne has made a wise investment of our money freeing up a fortune stuck in a Nigerian bank..

  • Rhoda Klapp8

    Breach of Data Protection Act?

  • goatmince

    I wouldn’t want anyone to know that I was a Tory plant either …

    • the viceroy’s gin

      …no worries… you’re a socialist nutter.

  • Swiss Bob

    Laughable. So what they’re saying is that there are no change management processes and/or no testing of Merlin.

    No wonder these clowns lose billions on IT projects, they don’t have the first idea.

    Edit: And the person managing the IT operations in constituencies that didn’t back up their data should be given a good talking to.

    • telemachus

      But you have to confess that this is very good news
      The mor disruption to the Tory machine before next May the grater the margin of victory for the forces of reason

Can't find your Web ID? Click here