Party's Insurance Plan May Prove a Casualty
Boggan, Steve, The Independent (London, England)
New Labour is likely to face an investigation by the Data Protection Registrar after complaints from party members who have been bombarded with junk mail advertising a Labour Party insurance scheme.
Backbenchers - many of whom had no idea that the party had branched out into insurance - have been receiving calls from irate constituents whose personal details appear to have been plucked from the party's database and used by American International Group, the company underwriting the policy.
The Labour Party Casualty Plan offers up to pounds 5,000 to members who suffer personal injuries. It is the second policy of its kind launched by the party. Last year, other mailshots advertised the Labour Party Personal Accident Protection Plan, which offered cover for up to pounds 10,000. This time, however, the fact that those targeted appear to be over 50 has led some MPs to conclude that the information taken from membership application forms and the party's database is being improperly used. "I had a furious constituent on to me but I knew nothing about it," said one backbencher. "He sent me the literature and I was astonished. I had no idea we were selling insurance - it took my breath away. "Whatever next, Ann Summers catalogues in conjunction with new Labour?" That MP, who did not wish to be named, and others, have told The Independent that constituents are considering reporting the matter to the Data Protection Registrar, Elizabeth France. Under the Data Protection Act, all information must have been "fairly obtained" and the donor must be made aware of - and agree to - any future uses. It may not be passed on to a third party without the donor's permission. The advertising literature - complete with the Labour red rose and featuring pictures of elderly people falling off ladders or tripping over garden rakes - is delivered in an envelope marked: "If undelivered, please return to The Labour Party, John Smith House" - Labour HQ. However, an employee at UNAT Direct, an American-based insurance company administering the scheme in Britain, said yesterday that the firm was passed information from the Labour Party. …