How THF grabbed tenants phone numbers for electioneering

During both the 2014 and 2015 Mayoral elections the Tower Hamlets First / Independent / Whatever Party sent residents text messages asking them for their vote.

Nothing unusual in that, most political organisations do this.

Problem is that Tower Hamlets Homes (THH) residents who got the texts were baffled as to how Tower Hamlets First managed to send a party political text message to their private telephone numbers without first giving them permission?

Answer is because Tower Hamlets First obtained residents phone numbers from Tower Hamlets Homes data sheets like the one below.

Tower Hamlets Homes data sheet obtained by Love Wapping
Tower Hamlets Homes data sheet obtained by Love Wapping (Click on image to enlarge)

Tower Hamlets Homes has 22,000 homes under its management and it would seem likely that the personal details of every tenant in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets has been misused in this way.

LW does not know the precise number of tenants but this is probably between 60,000 to 90,000 people. (If you know the exact number let us know.)

Data Protection Act breach

Any unauthorised use of mobile phone numbers in this way could be in contravention of Section 55 of the Data Protection Act 1998. Additionally the use of the phone numbers may contravene the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECER) which relates to digital marketing.

And as such would almost certainly be in breach of those pesky rules surround elections that the Electoral Commission look after.

And it would also seem highly likely that there have been criminal acts committed in the way of data theft at the very least. So the Metropolitan Police team of detectives at New Scotland Yard might be interested too.

Tower Hamlets Homes – the back story

Tower Hamlets First (THF) is – or was – a political organisation.

Tower Hamlets Homes (THH) is the borough’s Arms Length Management Organisation (ALMO) a not-for-profit company that provides housing services on behalf of the borough.

Seems someone somewhere has very short arms.

LW has reported on this issue during the 2015 Mayoral election ‘Residents sent unsolicited text messages by Khan campaign‘.


The Wapping Mole obtained these data sheets (above) and a number of canvassing sheets on one of his regular burrowing expeditions.

Moley cannot divulge precisely where he got his grubby little paws on this haul of evidential gold, suffice to say its provenance indicates that it could only have been used by a member of the previous Tower Hamlets First administration.

He was delighted to find such incriminating evidence and so confirm a long held belief that someone in Tower Hamlets Homes works for the political organisation formerly known as Tower Hamlets First and provides them with confidential information such as tenants phone numbers.

There is no evidence to suggest that THH the organisation provided this information to Tower Hamlets First.

This is not the first time that Tower Hamlets Homes has popped up in the long and sorry story of the corruption of an entire borough by Lutfur Rahman’s motley crew.

  1. First there was the incident in 2013 when three canvassers knocked on the door of LW HQ claiming to be from Tower Hamlets Homes but obviously working for Lutfur Rahman in a political capacity.
  2. Then there was #leafletgate in 2015 when an individual was caught on camera delivering electoral material for Rabina Khan and Tower Hamlets Homes newsletters at the same time.
  3. Now we have confirmation that Tower Hamlets Homes data has been made available to Tower Hamlets First.

In the past Tower Hamlets Homes (THH) have reacted extremely quickly to any allegations of wrong doing and have always reported that no THH staff were involved.

LW believes this to be true.

However with these latest allegations it is time for an independent enquiry by an outside body.

Maybe the police could do it? There again…

Just a thought.

What’s in the docs

Detail of Tower Hamlets Homes data sheet - names and phone numbers obscured by LW.
Detail of Tower Hamlets Homes data sheet – names and phone numbers obscured by LW.

For each address listed the documents give the following information:

  • UPRN (Unique Property Reference Number)
  • Property address
  • Estate
  • Neighbourhood
  • Name of resident
  • Phone number of resident

All handy stuff.

The address of the data sheets are in Shadwell ward which was where Cllr. Rabina Khan (Tower Hamlets First / Independent Group) and Cllr. Harun Miah (Tower Hamlets First / Independent Group) were elected as councillors in 2014 and where Ms. Khan was defeated in her bid to become the successor to Rahman in 2015.

When in power Cllr. Rabina Khan was Tower Hamlets First cabinet member in charge of housing and so responsible for Tower Hamlets Homes.

And here is a text message from Rabina Khan’s campaign team to a Tower Hamlets Homes tenant who had never given Tower Hamlets First their phone number.

RK-text-message copy

If you are good at arithmetic you might want to do some adding up at this point.

Tower Hamlets Transparency Commission

The recently announced formation of a Tower Hamlets Transparency Commission, led by Cllr. John Pierce, will be uncovering all sorts of things over the coming months.

This issue will no doubt be added to its very long list.

As a borough Tower Hamlets must look to the future but it is essential that any past wrongdoing by any political party or council officer must be uncovered and made public.

The unauthorised disclosure of personal information to Tower Hamlets First and the unauthorised use of residents phone numbers for political canvassing purposes was not confined to Shadwell ward.

On that note many borough residents are still wondering how the 17 corruptly elected Tower Hamlets First councillors remain in power.

This latest news confirms the need for them to be removed from their posts immediately and free and fair elections held in those wards.

That might be a job for the Department of Communities and Local Government maybe?

LW will be handing over all evidence to the appropriate authorities.

Update 13.25 hrs 10 August 2015

Initial statement from Tower Hamlets Council: “Both Tower Hamlets Council and Tower Hamlets Homes take data protection very seriously. We will be investigating what has happened in this case.”

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One thought on “How THF grabbed tenants phone numbers for electioneering

  1. As you know THF councillors controlled THH through their board- and Rabina Khan was the Cabinet member responsible for housing. You would have to be a complete idiot (this is not a comment about the abilities of the police investigating Leafletgate) not to see how easily this might have led to misuse of power. However it is clear that the officers paid from our taxes/rents/service charges colluded in this corruption- and they still remain in their positions as if nothing happened. I know LBTH has very little money after LR’s administration has cleaned it out (and Tory cuts finished the job) but for the sake of transparency we need to get to the bottom of who these officers were.
    It would be interesting to analyse how the names to be contacted asking for support for RK have been chosen. I hope you (or those affected) will report this to the ICO.

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