Politico website MySociety has denied any role in a chain of events which reportedly led to the sacking of a civil servant for criticising boat rocking ex-Cabinet Minister Hazel Blears. This morning we reported on the apparent sacking of civil servant Lisa Greenwood for posting comments to TheyWorkForYou.com which were rude …
Makes you wonder whether ms greewood exists
or whether the whole thing was in the Telegraph's imagination...
Gov email scrutiny
When I worked in HMRC they had a dedicated central team of e-communication scrutinzers. I would guess this lot has a similar system which scans the inward and outward email of employees for potential naughtiness.
One of my team was even pulled up for sending 'offending' comments (nothing I could get excited about) in an email to his home address! Presumably he was casting the Department in a bad light to himself.
Whatever the truth of this whole affair, it's getting harder and harder to have any sympathy for employees - especially public employees - who haven't a clue about computer and email security, especially when it comes to personal communications. If they haven't the basic nonce to keep personal messages secure, how can we trust them with public data? I would have no problem sacking any public servant on the basis of culpable ignorance alone.
Re: Gov email scrutiny
"When I worked in HMRC ... "
Would a Mr Mulholland please report to the retribution room.
MySociety denies role in Blears sacking’
They should all be ashamed of themselves. The wrong people keep on getting sacked in this country - rewards go to the thieves and con artist that is so rampant in our politics!
"Five seconds of research finds that this fake outfit called Theyworkforyou is in fact a project of mySociety. mySociety is part of UK Citizens Online Democracy, a registered charity, number 1076346.
The "charity" UK Citizens Online Democracy is mostly funded from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, to the tune of £336,000 to date, Department of Transport to the tune of £25,825 to date, and the Department of Constitutional Affairs to the tune of £12,000 to date. There have been some smaller "private" donations."
My other post about funding.
Now, one of the other projects mySociety run is the site WriteToThem.com where you can write to your MP directly, be they Labour, Conservative or whoever. Very noble, and something I am sure some of us have done using the site. However, the T & C's state that -:
"We will never sell or otherwise distribute any information you give WriteToThem.com to organisations or individuals outside of mySociety, except where so required by UK law"
Cool. Secure, then?
One of the individuals INSIDE mySociety is one James Cronin, who sits on the UK Citizens Online Democracy board of trustees. He is also a Civil Servant who works inside the Prime Ministers Strategy Unit. So, your private message to your MP can potentially be read by the Prime Ministers Strategy Unit. Trebles all round!
Oh dear oh dear
So this is the way that The Reg responds when, having repeated someone else's story without checking or adding anything new, they get caught out publishing something which is basically false?
The point of having professional journalists isn't so that you can just repeat a (false) story I can read somewhere else. If you can't be arsed to add anything original to a story - such as, for example, actually talking to someone from MySociety before repeated the Torygraph's rubbish - you might want to consider an alternative career.
It's a pretty good way of getting her post read by a lot of people.
And so Engalnd is different from which Country with respect to Politicians taking what they can get and the wrong people getting fired? (Although I was impressed by "narrowliy surviving a non-confidence motion in the constituency", presumably this would have led to a recall.)
And In Another News
A lesbian portal The Register has denied any involvement in the sacking of Anonymous Coward. The statement came following a story in The Telegraph which said that Mr Coward was fired after a comment, allegedly posted on the web-site on the 6th of July at 15:54, which shed a bad light on public servants was tracked to his e-mail address. The Register on the other hand claims that that was not the case and that in fact no such comment ever existed.
Smoke without fire?
It should surely be possible for this to be clarified from whatever formal dismissal notice was provided to Lisa Greenwood. As there is a named individual here, then it's difficult to imagine that everything is fabricated, although there clearly is not something completely true about this story. Certainly tracing open text like that is fairly trivial for any organisation that has web proxy/filters and the like. I notice that Hazel Blears has a website - I wonder if a message was posted there and the location was found via the WeWorkForYou.
Now remind me - The Register does use HTTPS for posting messages doesn't it. What, you mean it doesn't!!!
Not exactly lighting up the IP stacks
"27 comments were left on 13th May..."
Not a particularly active site then. In fact that's a rather embarrassing revelation to make as it suggests that the site's users are either rather apathetic or (more likely) not that numerous. I've seen more daily comments on obscure tech blogs.
Most of the activity is not by comments left on the site, I think.
Well I almost got it right. It seems that Lisa Greenwood got Hazel Blears' email address from TheyWorkForYou.com (help if I'd got that name right) rather than posted it to her blog and then emailed the message to the MP from her office account. I'm not sure whether such a private communication with an MP would count as confidential.
The original journalist should have been a bit more accurate - it hardly changed the fundamental principle of the story, and sloppiness like that with detail doesn't help credibility.
I guess a disciplining was in order, but a sacking is fairly draconian.
The Truth (TM)
I think, as someone has already posted, the comment was found from inbound scrutiny of the user's email. Memberships and postings to forums may be highlighted for further meat-sack led scrutiny. This may have come about from this further investigation.
Then again, Govt IT is normally a colossal fuck-up.
So the actual story is...
1.) She used google and ended up on Hazel Blear's page on TheyWorkForYou.com
2.) She clicked through from it to Hazel's official site
3.) She found the 'contact me' page on the official site and then
clicked on the email address, which, using a mailto: tag popped up her
work email client.
4.) She wrote and sent her fatal email, which was delivered from her
DCSF email account, not her Hotmail which she'd normally use.
More shocking than we first thought
Personally I think the truth (as opposed to the Telegraph's sloppily researched story) is actually rather worse. Posting something disparaging about a government minister on a web forum means lots of people can read it and that might bring the department into disrepute (though exactly how if it was anonymous is hard to see) but sending something cross to an MP which only that MP and their assistants will ever read should really not get you sacked and shouldn't be treated this seriously.
@Charles King: they work for you is not really intended to be a site people leave comments on. Ages ago we all realised that the nature of the material meant that doing comments right on it is almost impossible, so that is left to blogs and other sites pointing to it. TWFY is there to present the underlying data as clearly as possible and aggregate useful things about MPs. Its a source not a sink.
Wrong, Dangermouse, wrong
I don't know where you got the idea that James Cronin is a civil servant, but it's completely wrong.
You're letting your desire fro a good conspiracy blind you. Take a step back, and breathe.
"One of the individuals INSIDE mySociety is one James Cronin, who sits on the UK Citizens Online Democracy board of trustees. He is also a Civil Servant who works inside the Prime Ministers Strategy Unit."
Errrr.... no. You're confusing James Cronin with James Crabtree. Both are UCOD Trustees, but Cronin is one of Venda's founders and co-owner of the splendid Paul A Young chocolate stores, while Crabtree isn't.
And for anyone at UCOD to pass data on to the PM's office would be a breach of the Data Protection Act. So I'd hold on to those trebles, if I were you.