List leak was a 'dirty trick'

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Indy Politics

Sir Menzies Campbell's campaign team for the Liberal Democrat leadership has been accused of breaching the Data Protection Act by asking for a membership list of thousands of student supporters.

Leaders of Liberal Democrat Youth and Students claimed in an e-mail obtained by The Independent that they had been approached by the Campbell camp to supply their membership list. The e-mail from Gez Smith, the chairman of the group, to fellow members said: "Have had an approach today from the Ming camp for an IDYS membership list for contacting and lobbying purposes. Have obviously refused, but thought I'd take opportunity just to give you all a heads up that our membership data now has added value ."

The Liberal Democrat MP Jeremy Browne, a spokesman for Sir Menzies's campaign, said his team were complying with the rules and hinted that he feared the leak was a sign of dirty tricks. He said: "I would look at who is pointing the finger, rather than where it is pointing." He added that trying to fight a campaign without being allowed to contact the electorate was frustrating.

Lord Rennard, returning officer for the leadership campaign, warned the candidates on 16 January that seeking membership lists could breach the Data Protection Act.