Tories must denounce ‘underhand’ Facebook groups promoted by Shaun Bailey’s official account, Labour says

Kate Devlin
Whitehall Editor
Wednesday 05 May 2021 18:37
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Who is Sadiq Khan?

Labour has called on the Conservatives to denounce a series of what it says are ‘underhand’ Facebook groups linked to Shaun Bailey’s campaign for London mayor.

Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner said the groups were “masquerading as community-led” and “a betrayal of the trust of the Londoners who joined… in good faith”.

The groups all have similar names and each is focused on the issue of crime in a different borough of the city. Some say they were “established by the community for the community”.

But at least one says it was created by Mr Bailey’s own official Facebook page.

A number of administrators of the groups also describe themselves as Conservative councillors, candidates or party staff.

Mr Bailey’s official Facebook page links to a number of the groups, although others were recently unlinked.

The sites often contain links to pro-Bailey articles and comments that are critical of his Labour opponent.

Crime is a key issue in Mr Bailey’s campaign to replace the current Labour mayor of London Sadiq Khan.

The Conservative candidate has accused Mr Khan of a “wasted” five years in charge of the UK’s largest city.

In a letter to the Tory party co-chair Amanda Milling, Ms Rayner said: “I am sure that you would agree that this is a betrayal of the trust of the Londoners who joined these groups in good faith with the intention of keeping up to date with issues in their community, and that it is simply unacceptable for the Conservative Party to create groups masquerading as impartial community groups in order to present party-political campaign activity.”

“Given the close links between the admins of these pages, CCHQ, and Bailey’s campaign, there is no credible argument that he is not making use of these services... I am sure that I won’t need to remind you that failure to declare notional expenditure and submitting an inaccurate spending return would constitute serious breaches of electoral law.”

She also urged on Ms Milling and the Conservative Party denounce the “underhand” methods used and instruct Mr Bailey to delete the groups and apologise for misleading the public.

A Bailey campaign source said: “Since Sadiq Khan became mayor, knife crime has risen by 60%, burglaries have risen by 86%, and homicides have hit an eleven-year high. It is neither illegal nor underhanded for any group, of any affiliation, to point this out. 

“Labour insiders have spent the last day anonymously briefing the press that the mayoral election will be closer than people realise. So instead of making complaints, Labour’s deputy leader might want to ask herself why more and more Londoners are backing Shaun Bailey. Sadiq Khan’s record on crime is at least part of the answer.”

The Conservative Party has been approached for comment.

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