A PROBE is underway after Oldham's Liberal Democrats leader Howard Sykes leaked personal details from council information to a member of the public – an incident he says was a "mistake".

Failsworth Independent Party leader, Cllr Brian Hobin, was told Cllr Sykes, who receives findings of public requests in his position as a leader of one of the two main opposition parties, sent personal details from one to a person.

But Cllr Sykes has said he "forwarded" a response without "deleting or redacting the enquirer's details".

It is a "mistake" which Cllr Sykes regrets and apologises for "without reservation".

He reported the incident to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), which upholds information rights in the public interest.

Cllr Sykes has also self-referred himself to the council's Standards Committee for consideration under the councillor's Code of Conduct.

The council has reported the matter to the ICO as well.

The incident comes after the conclusion of an investigation which was launched by council leader, Cllr Arooj Shah.

At the last full council meeting, Cllr Shah reported she had been told of claims that there had been leaks and "breaches of data".

She added: "Local people should be able to trust that we manage their data, and manage confidential council information in appropriate ways and keep it as safe as possible.

"That's our responsibility and our duty and people contact us with good faith and expect us to do that.

"I've already asked officers to undertake an urgent review and investigate who, if anyone, is inappropriately sharing confidential information.

"And we will take the strongest action possible against anyone found to be leaking or sharing things inappropriately."

After discovering Cllr Sykes was responsible for leaking details from an FOI request, Cllr Hobin sent a letter to him expressing his disappointment.

Cllr Brian Hobin

Cllr Brian Hobin

Within it, Cllr Hobin wrote: "Your actions now leave my fellow Failsworth Independent Party councillors and I, and quite possibly many of the remaining councillors, in a position where we cannot work with you in council.

"How can you expect any of us to openly discuss or correspond anything at council, committee or panel with you present?

"As a result of your actions, I now feel your position is untenable.

"I believe that had you been an employee found to be carrying out these actions you would, rightly, be dismissed for gross misconduct.

"As this is not the case, I consider that the only honourable option available is that you resign your post with immediate effect, including your position as elected member for the constituents of Shaw."

In response, Cllr Sykes said: "I responded directly and as soon as practically possible to the person concerned and have apologised for my accidental disclosure.

"I also reported the matter to the Information Commissioner and self-referred myself to Oldham Council's Standards Committee for consideration under the councillors Code of Conduct.

"Freedom of Information responses provided by councils are publicly available documents.

"For many years, Oldham Council has provided copies of its public responses to me, including the name and contact details of those making enquiries where that has been given.

"Unfortunately, on this occasion an error was made and one response was forwarded by me without me deleting or redacting the enquirer's details.

"It is a mistake which I regret and apologise for without reservation.

"Any further enquiries about the original information breach by Oldham Council, which has since changed its procedures, should be taken up directly with the council.”