The Liberal Democrats have been accused of “underhand tactics” after putting out an election pamphlet that mimics a local newspaper – using the same name as a real news title.
It comes after the Conservatives were widely condemned for briefly changing the name of their press team’s Twitter account to “FactCheckUK” during Tuesday’s ITV leader’s debate.
Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesman Tom Brake responded to the story: “Tories are now resorting to deliberately misleading the public.”
But it has emerged that the Liberal Democrats have been putting out election leaflets that closely resemble real newspapers.
One Twitter user, Charlotte Baker (“@WinchesterJelly”), sent us a picture of the front page of the “Mid-Hampshire Gazette”.
The publication describes itself as a “free newspaper” covering several local districts.
The words “Liberal Democrats” appear in very small print at the top right of the front page.
A real local newspaper, also called the Basingstoke Gazette – which brands itself as simply the Gazette – says it also covers mid-Hampshire.
Katie French, editor of the Basingstoke Gazette and Andover Advertiser, told us: “This is the second occasion this week where a major political party has resorted in underhand tactics to reach voters.
“It is deeply worrying that despite much debate about transparency and honesty, the Liberal Democrats here in Hampshire have shamelessly exploited the trusted format of a local newspaper for their own political gain.
“This is nothing more than a political advertisement dressed up as a newspaper. The look and feel of this advertisement is very convincing and readers will have to spot the small print in the top right corner to see the so-called Mid Hampshire Gazette is published by the Liberal Democrats.
“This is a flagrant attempt to manipulate voters by presenting them an advertisement in the form of a front-page news story. Frankly it is insulting to the public who deserve better from one of the leading political parties.
“It is also offensive to local journalists, including my team, who work very hard to be the trusted and balanced voices in the community.
“As non-broadcast political adverts are largely exempt from regulation, we will be writing a letter of complaint to the Liberal Democrat party.”
FactCheck readers also pointed us to other publications put out by Conservative general election candidates which resemble newspapers and magazines, often without party branding visible on the front pages.
The Brexit Party also publishes a free newspaper, the Brexiteer, which carries the words “the newspaper of the Brexit Party” – in much larger print than the Lib Dem publication – under its title.
A spokesman for the Liberal Democrats told FactCheck: “Liberal Democrats pride ourselves on working hard locally all year round on the issues that matter to local people. During an election period this even more important and we are committed to informing people about the issues that matter to them.”
Please follow @FactCheck on Twitter and send us examples of party campaign material that has come through your letterbox in the form of a fake local newspaper.