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Parish Clerk has access to emails sent and received in the Councillors email box even not addressed to the Clerk?

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asked by (170 points)

1 Answer

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I assume you are questioning the legitimacy of the Clerk being able to view Cllrs E mails & feel uncomfortable about it. Can you confirm that the E mails addresses have been provided by the Parish Council and have a .gov.uk or .org end suffix.
answered by (19.2k points)
Yes they have Graeme, but we all have passwords which we changed when the email addresses were given out but I have now discovered following sending an email marked Confidential that the clerk has access and can read these emails!
My rule of thumb is to assume any email I send using the Parish Council set up could be read by third parties or published on the front page of a newspaper
I think the advice from Jules is worth following. However, it doesn't address the issue of the Clerk's access. I am guessing the E mail facility is provided by a third party provider who has given the clerk some form of elevated access to the mail server. My suggestion is to ask the clerk for a copy of the service level agreement and description of services provided by the E mail provider. If it says that designated access will be provided to mail server content of something to that effect, you can ask the clerk who has it and on what basis was the access stipulated.
Councillors come and go but the FOI doesn’t so it’s imperative the Parish Council as a body subject to FOI needs to retain and have access to all emails ( confidential or not ) for at least 6 years
One would hope that whoever has the access would have the integrity not to snoop and action taken if there was no business case for them doing so
Recently at Borough level Councillors were told that a blanket FOI request had been made using various key words
They were told they had the choice to search their own Council emails themselves or consent to Council staff doing the search
I often shudder to think how some Parish Councils would operate without the constraints of the FOI and the right to record public meetings
I think legally it's a grey area - my personall approach has always been that a work/council mailbox is not mine and not private - personal use is allowed while realising that it can be looked at by someone else.
Thank you all for your comments and help. My biggest issue was that I sent a confidential message to another Councillor believing the system to be secure, it was however without doubt read and talked about to another Councillor and I am sure that the recipient was not responsible for that. I was never told and I don't believe anyone else was that the emails were not secure. This is wrong! Everyone should know exactly what is safe and what is not especially if others cannot be trusted.

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