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PN denies breaching data protection law

The Nationalist Party has denied breaching the Data Protection Act when it posted leaflets to workers’ houses warning them of potential transfers if Labour is elected.

The party said it sent the 20,000 leaflets at random, to people whose name appeared in the electoral register, and had not targeted public sector employees.

A PN spokesman was replying to questions sent by The Times asking for an explanation of the anonymous leaflet warning people of possible transfers if Labour won the election.

On Sunday, Labour leader Joseph Muscat called on Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi to “come clean” and admit the PN had access to workers’ personal data.

“My message to public sector workers is clear: you may not agree with us, but you’ll be able to work with us,” Dr Muscat said.

Questions sent yesterday asking Labour if it planned to ask the Data Protection Commissioner to investigate remained unanswered by the time of going to print.

The PN spokesman said the campaign was not aimed specifically at Government workers. He said leaflets were sent to random addresses from the electoral register.

He added that the leaflet highlighted what Labour’s spokeswoman on public administration, Helena Dalli, had said regarding an audit exercise a Labour government would carry out to determine whether people in certain positions deserved to be there.

Addressing a press conference in October, Dr Dalli said a Labour government would rectify all injustices in the public sector and people who were under-qualified would be replaced by others who deserved the post.

She said a Labour government would commission an audit to determine what needed to be done and to flag up public sector mismanagement. The replacements would take place through non-renewal of contracts and redeployment.

The PN spokesman defended the decision to send the leaflets, including the fact that they were anonymous, saying there was no “hard and fast rule that that political material should be signed”.

“This (accusation) is coming from (Joseph) Muscat, whose party was, very recently, found guilty of breach of data protection by the data commissioner.

“At the same time that Labour were complaining about the leaflet, they were sending out an e-mail signed by Joseph Muscat to addresses that had been – once again – illegally acquired, some of which are on the gov.mt network,” the spokesman said.

He said the party’s reaction to the leaflet showed Dr Muscat was “very uncomfortable that his shadow minister has exposed Labour’s transfer exercise when in power”.

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