NSW Police Leaked the Emails of Everyone Who Complained About BLM Protestors Being Pepper Sprayed

A split image of NSW Police pepper spraying protestors and a blurred copy of the letter leaking email addresses of complainants
Zac Crellin/NSW Police

On Thursday morning, Samuel Leighton-Dore received an email from NSW Police. They wrote to inform him that they saw no reason to conduct a further investigation into officers pepper spraying Black Lives Matter protestors in Sydney’s Central Station. Not long after, he received second email. This time it included the email addresses of more than 150 people.

Leighton-Dore wasn’t at the clash between protestors and police after the Sydney Black Lives Matter protest on Saturday, 6 June. But after he saw footage and spoke to people who were there, he decided to complain about the police’s decision to force protestors into a small space and use pepper spray on them.

“I was quite active in complaining about it,” he said. “I called up multiple times, they said go to the LECC [Law Enforcement Conduct Commission]. Then the LECC said they didn’t see any reason for further investigation, and that they were giving it back to the NSW Police.”

How did NSW Police respond?

Leighton-Dore received an email with a one page letter from NSW Police Chief Inspector Craig Lowery that said the matter had been investigated and that “there was no reason to conduct a further internal investigation.”

Not longer after, he received another email NSW Police sent only to him. Attached was the original letter with an additional page. The email’s subject read “Complaint Outcome Letter [DLM=Sensitive:Personal]”.

On the page, text read “Please note; outcome letter was sent to all of the following complainants via email (Bcc recipients not show above):”

Below that, more than 150 email addresses are listed together, including Leighton-Dore’s email address.

Then, Leighton-Dore called the police who, after hearing what happened, asked him to hold and then hung up on him. So he did what anyone would do: he tweeted about it.

Gizmodo spoke with another individual who wished to remain anonymous. Their email address was also listed in the document and they had complained to NSW Police about the incident.

What’s next?

A NSW Police spokesperson confirmed that an email has been sent containing email addresses.

“At face value, it appears be an administrative error, however, we are making inquiries and will discuss with those whose email address was shared with the individual,” they said in a statement to Gizmodo Australia.

Leighton-Dore has been disappointed with the process. He claims that NSW Police (who’ve been caught breaching people’s privacy before) lied to him while he was complaining, saying  “I was told more than once I was the only one who complained.”

A NSW Police said that they weren’t aware of this conversation, but said more than one person made a complaint.

“The whole experience for me has really revealed this circlejerk of power. There doesn’t seem to be actual infrastructure in place for recourse on police abuse. And several times, they’d never heard of the LECC, which makes me how often the LECC goes on in there,” he said.

He said he wasn’t expecting to be placed in the middle of a potential privacy breach.

“My psychologist told me to just pick one issue and focus on it, so I decided to focus on this. And look what happened,” he said.

NSW’s Information Commissioner was contacted for comment but did not respond by publication.