The Labour Party has distanced itself from a massive data breach that saw the personal information of huge numbers of Maltese voters exposed.

In a statement after an emergency meeting of top party officials on Thursday, the PL also said its use of data complied by GDPR rules.

Data on 337,384 people including their names, address, ID details, phone numbers and voting preferences were exposed. 

It originated from a list created by PL which combines the electoral register with data gathered on voting preference that was being held by a Maltese IT company called C-Planet IT Solutions Ltd, owned by Philip Farrugia, brother-in-law of Parliamentary Secretary for European Funds Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi.

However, Labour said in a statement that Farrugia's IT system was not the same used by the party. 

The party has its own system which was "internally controlled" and the company and the director mentioned were "never connected" to the party’s system, it said.

It said that the information held by the PL was lawfully held, because the Electoral Commission was duty bound to pass updated information to political parties to ensure that the electoral process was transparent.

"The PL was always careful - even before data protection regulations came into force, as well as after - to act in line with the law," it said.

Personal data from the clients of a law firm set up Zrinzo Azzopardi was also leaked online.  

On Wednesday, the Data Protection Commissioner launched an investigation into the alleged breach.

Sources said that during Thursday’s meeting discussed how the information had made its way from the party to a company owned by the  Zrinzo Azzopardi's brother-in-law. 

The meeting featured lawyer Paul Lia, the party's CEO George Azzopardi, deputy leader Chris Cardona, party chief electoral officer Louis Gatt and MITA CEO Tony Sultana, who helps the party with its IT systems.

Zrinzo Azzopardi is a former president of the PL and plays an active role in Labour’s electoral office. 

The meeting also discussed security of the party’s servers.

Correction April 3: It was a group of top PL officials, and not the party executive, which met on Thursday.

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