between the besieged residents of
Britain's largest Gypsy township and
the local council - this time over
alleged breaches of privacy.
confidential medical and social welfare
data concerning several hundred
Travellers it wants to expel from the
In the latest incident on 24 January,
when a council committee confirmed plans
to bulldoze 120 Gypsy homes, private family
details were printed in an agenda and
posted on a website.
"Why is all this personal data being
published?" asked Bridie Jones, of Gypsy
and Traveller Affairs. "Is this your way of
smearing their names?"
Committee chairperson Sylvia
Buckley, wife of Tory council leader Malcolm
Buckley, denied there had been a breach
of the Data Protection Act. An official present
confirmed this view.
But over 60 residents at Dale Farm have
now filed formal complaints. These have been
forwarded to deputy leader of the Labour
Party Alan Davies, who has undertaken to
take up the issue.
Residents say that as a result of a story
by a local newspaper based on the data placed
in the public domain, they have been facing
increased opposition and hostility. This has in
turn fed into the anti-Gypsy campaign led by
Tory MP John Baron.
Duplicates of the complaints have also
been sent to the UK Information Commissioner,
who overseas compliance with data protection laws,
and to Trevor Phillips, chair of the Commission
for Racial Equality, with a request for action.
The CRE will be party to a judicial review
next month challenging Basildon's policy towards
Gypsies, which has been characterised by Dale
Farm supporters as comparable to ethnic-cleansing.
Meanwhile, the leader of Basildon's
Labour Party group Nigel Smith says the
council's decision to evict some l,000
Travellers from their own land could be
"tainted by racism".
He says direct action force should
not be used against Dale Farm. Fellow
Labour Party councillor Swatantra
Nandanwar was the sole member of
the development control committee
to vote against eviction.
Before the meeting, Mr Nandanwar
was under pressure not to speak. He has
since been reported to a standards board
for allegedly failing to declare an interest, in
that he had previously visited and spoken
with Dale Farm residents.
ustiben (repost by dmish)