Election watchdog raps Tories after they rebrand Twitter account as ‘FactcheckUK’

Posted On: 
20th November 2019

Britain's elections watchdog has urged Conservative campaigners to act "responsibly" after the party rebranded its Twitter account to ‘factcheckUK’ during a live TV debate.

At the end of the ITV leaders' debate the Tory-backed account called it for Mr Johnson.

The party sparked an angry backlash by changing the name, profile and background image of its @CCHQpress Twitter account and pushing out content challenging Jeremy Corbyn and praising Boris Johnson while the ITV leaders' debate was underway.

As the debate wrapped up it declared that the "factcheckUK verdict" was that Mr Johnson had won.

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Twitter has warned the party any further attempts to “mislead” people will result in “decisive corrective action”.

And the Labour Party and Liberal Democrats slammed the Tory move arguing that it showed the party could not be trusted.

The Electoral Commission has now issued a warning to all parties, telling them stand up for transparency as the campaign continues.

A spokesperson for the watchdog said said: “Voters are entitled to transparency and integrity from campaigners in the lead up to an election, so they have the information they need to decide for themselves how to vote. 

“The Electoral Commission seeks to deliver transparency to the public through the political finance rules; while we do not have a role in regulating election campaign content, we repeat our call to all campaigners to undertake their vital role responsibly and to support campaigning transparency.”

But Conservative Dominic Raab came out in defence of the party, saying it had focused on challenging "nonsense” from Mr Corbyn during the debate.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4, the Foreign Secretary said: "I think the account was very clearly linked to CCHQ... but we’re rebutting the nonsense that systematically gets put out about the Conservative position so that voters know the truth."

Pressed on whether the party would use the tactic again, he added: "We’ll look at the advice from Twitter. But we will make no apology for having instant rebuttal of the nonsense and lies."

Labour's Dawn Butler meanwhile told the programme that she did not believe Twitter's warning went far enough, and called for the CCHQ account to be suspended.