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Former NSW Labor boss fined $4,000 for data breach

A former New South Wales Labor boss who intended to hand misused electoral roll information to a union official has been fined $4,000, after a magistrate was asked to take his “very, very” large mortgage into account, The Guardian reports.

The former state ALP general secretary Jamie Clements asked the former Labor staffer David Latham to search the party’s Campaign Central database, which contained electoral roll information, for NSW man Craig Wilson’s address in June 2015. Clements admitted he had intended to give the details, which were supposed to be used for elections, to the then National Union of Workers state secretary, Derrick Belan, but said he never got the chance. In sentencing Clements, magistrate Beverley Schurr on Monday said she accepted the crime, which carries a maximum $22,000 penalty, was not part of any ongoing commercial scheme. However, she said a public loss of confidence in the electoral roll could have “serious consequences” for the democratic system.

“There is a duty for the courts to protect ... the roll to guarantee to citizens their private information is going to be protected,” Schurr told the Downing Centre local court.

Clements previously gave evidence that he thought he was using commonwealth electoral data, not NSW electoral data, and that he knew nothing about the laws protecting electoral information. His lawyer, Phillip Boulten SC, said his client no longer played any part in politics and expected the NSW Labor branch to consider his expulsion. He said Clements, who has recently started a legal practice, does not have an extra stream of income and the home he owns with his wife is his only substantial asset.

“[The house] has a very, very large mortgage attached to it,” Boulten said. “I am not suggesting he can’t pay a fine but once you get into the tens of thousands of dollars then it will be a very real penalty for him.”

Schurr previously found Clements also asked former Labor staffer Dominic Ofner to search Wilson’s details in May 2015 and that information was passed over the phone at that time.

Ofner has previously said Clements then told him Wilson would probably “be met by bikies”.

However, Clements was cleared of a charge relating to the breach because Schurr was not satisfied he knew NSW electoral material was being accessed, which was required to prove that particular charge.

Clements resigned as Labor general secretary in January 2016. Belan has been charged with unrelated fraud offences.

Schurr ordered a conviction be recorded and for half of Clement’s fine to be paid to the NSW Electoral Commission.