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UKIP Official Response

Dear Members,
 
I refer you to the following:
 
https://www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/ukip-high-court-richard-braine-blackmail-case-a4320151.html
 
IT MUST BE TRUE - I READ IT IN A REMAINER TABLOID
 
This is the official UKIP response to the article in The Evening Standard 23rd Dec 2019
 
On 16 October 2019, Richard Braine asked a Mr. Mark Dent,  to enter our Party HQ and access our computers to (a) lock UKIP staff and NEC members out of their email accounts, (b) send out an unauthorised email via our Mailchimp system and (c) browse through UKIP members' private e-mails for use as evidence later.  Clearly, these actions amount to a gross breach of GDPR and much else, potentially attracting both civil and criminal penalties.
 
When our staff protested, Richard Braine ordered them to do as they were told, saying he had 'suspended the chairman and the board of directors' and now had acquired sole authority over them.  This was plainly false, indeed ridiculous.  The Party Leader has no power whatsoever under UKIP's Constitution, or in company law, to suspend the Party Chairman, NEC members, or the directors of UKIP Ltd.  Under the UKIP Constitution, only the Chairman has the power to suspend party members i.e., in an appropriate case, she could suspend the Leader (as a party member), but the Leader cannot suspend anyone without a motion passed by a majority vote of the NEC. 
 
Nonetheless, our staff felt compelled by force majeure to comply with the instructions, which we repeat had included carrying out a "scan of the chairman’s account and other UKIP.org account[s] to gain evidence, for use later".
 
Shortly after the illicit access of the party's computers, some NEC members received an anonymised email announcing that their private e-mails sent or received for the last two years had been seized and would be reviewed "for evidence."  Accompanying this was a blackmailing threat that, unless they resigned from UKIP by midnight of Friday 18 October, selected "useful parts" of their confidential correspondence would be published to the world at large.
 
Data protection exists to protect people's rights to privacy and confidentiality.  It would be plainly wrong and politically catastrophic for such publication to occur.  In such circumstances, we had no choice but to treat the threat as genuine and take appropriate action. 
 
UKIP has a duty to ensure the integrity of its and its members' data.  Hence, the NEC resolved to seek an injunction to prevent disclosure of any information associated with UKIP's mail servers.  An emergency injunction was granted by a High Court Judge and ratified by another High Court judge a few days later.
 
Subsequently, there was a hearing to determine whether this injunction should be maintained until the High Court finally determines our case against Richard Braine et al. for breach of data protection etc (we do not yet have a date for this).
 
Another judge decided to lift the interim injunction as (a) no publication had occurred despite the 24-hour deadline, (b) we could not prove precisely what data had been taken from us or (c) who sent the blackmailing e-mails.  The Judge refused to order examination of Mark Dent's computer to see what, if anything, he had downloaded - paradoxically because that would breach his right to computer privacy and confidentiality! 
 
UKIP had to take the threat of publication of either UKIP's or members' data seriously, especially as a General Election was announced a few days after the access of the party's computers.  We have acted in the best interests of UKIP members at all times.  It must be right for us to take the protection of confidential data very seriously.  If there was ANY chance that confidential data had been illicitly obtained, pursuant to his instructions, UKIP had to do everything it could to ensure that data was safeguarded.
 
The decision to go to the law was an executive action by the then Chairman which, based on what many NEC members understood at the time, seemed perfectly reasonable in the circumstances.  The motion to proceed with legal action was proposed by two other NEC members on 17 October 2019, and eight more voted in favour of it.  There were no votes against it, so the vote in favour was 10-0.
 
There are difficult times ahead for UKIP; please have faith that your management team is working hard to try and halt the concerted effort by some factions to wrest control of the Party.
 
Speak again very soon,
 
Patricia Mountain
Interim Leader
 
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