NSW Police have blamed a leak of more than 150 emails belonging to complainants who raised concerns about officers using pepper spray against Black Lives Matter (BLM) protestors on the person who received the leaked contact details.
In August, Samuel Leighton-Dore received an email in response to his complaint about the use of pepper spray against people who had attended a Sydney BLM protest. But soon after that, he received another email that leaked the email address of every other person who had complained too.
Leighton-Dore tweeted about it and gave an interview about the experience to Gizmodo Australia.
So the @nswpolice just forwarded me, accidentally I assume, the names and emails of every person who complained about the Central Station incident. Felt like a significant data breach, so I called up to suggest an OAIC report, and they hung up on me. Yo @GladysB pick up your kids
— Samuel Leighton-Dore (@SamLeightonDore) August 13, 2020
NSW Police confirmed to Gizmodo that it had made a “administrative error” and said it would be in touch with those affected.
How did NSW Police respond to the BLM complaints leak?
On Monday, Leighton-Dore received another email about the BLM leak from NSW Police.
In it, the Professional Standards Command unit confirmed that the email had been leaked by the Professional Standards Manager for the Central Metropolitan Region. And the Professional Standards Command “independently investigated” this matter and said there was “no intent behind this disclosure”.
But one part that stood out to Leighton-Dore was a claim that the emails had been leaked to “one further person” (presumably Leighton-Dore) who, according to the letter, “posted/disclosed your email address on the public domain”.
Leighton-Dore vehemently denies this. He said never posted the emails publicly.
Gizmodo received a copy of the leak from Leighton-Dore by directly contacting him and only shared a redacted version.
When asked, a NSW Police Force spokesperson refused to answer questions about what evidence they had to support claims that Leighton-Dore had shared the emails publicly.
“A review has confirmed the email was an administrative error with only one person sent the incorrect information. NSW Police have spoken with that person and the investigation has now concluded. There will be no further comment,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
Another complainant, Owen (who only gave his first name for privacy reasons), told Gizmodo Australia that a NSW Police employee told him over the phone that the person who had received the leak had posted it on social media.
Leighton-Dore also denies deleting any tweets about the leak, either.
Already frustrated about the process prior to this, he said NSW Police’s decision to blame him for the leak was unacceptable.
“Since filing my initial complaint about the NSW Police force’s use of pepper spray against peaceful protesters on June 6th, I’ve been met with a seemingly unending chain of bureaucratic subterfuge, gaslighting and non-accountability from the NSW Police,” he said.
Leighton-Dore said that NSW Police has chosen to defame him rather than taking accountability for the mistake.
“If the police are left to investigate themselves, if the police are able to make baseless claims against members of the public in an official capacity, if there’s no real infrastructure for the investigation of NSW Police, how are we not living in a police state?” he said.