A PERSON using a fake identity has sparked outrage by sending out leaflets criticising two Lib Dem councillors and accusing them of not attending enough meetings.
The flyers have caused upset after they were sent to addresses across Fareham.
The two leaflets are the work of someone using the name ‘Paddy Graham’, who claims to be a Ukip supporter from Portchester.
But there is no-one with that name or similar registered on the electoral role in the Fareham area.
The News has also learnt that a Facebook profile picture Mr Graham claims is him is actually that of a man from Kent. A family friend of that man confirmed he has nothing to do with the leaflets. And when we contacted Mr Graham by e-mail, he refused to meet up or speak over the phone.
The local Ukip party has distanced itself from him, saying they have never met him and that he gave false details – including an address that does not exist – to them.
The leaflets claim:
n Cllr Paul Whittle, the Lib Dem group leader and ward councillor for Fareham East, ‘does not attend meetings as he is too busy working in Saudi Arabia’.
Cllr Whittle says he does work abroad, and has done since 2014 but says he is able to fulfil his role via technology. Cllr Whittle’s attendance record for the last six months of 2015 is 62 per cent. He was re-elected to his seat last May.
n Cllr Katrina Trott, ward councillor for Fareham East, no longer has ‘the necessary energy to continue’.
Cllr Trott said her attendance is 100 per cent and she is up for election in May.
‘Whoever is doing it is misguided,’ she said.
‘They are sending leaflets to people who support me and know the work I have done over the last 12 years as councillor.’
The first leaflet was sent via Royal Mail in December with the title ‘Greedy Trotters’ and it attacked both Lib Dem councillors.
The second leaflet, which was sent last month, is in the same style and colours.
It bears the slogan ‘The fightback against bad politicians continues...’. It also criticises the two Lib Dems for their attendance records.
Michael Zeffertt, a Fareham resident and former county councillor, received one of the second leaflets.
He was so enraged by the electioneering he reported it to the police. ‘It is an attack on our democracy,’ he said.
It is not known how many leaflets were sent in total.
The first leaflet said it had been sent by ‘Paddy Graham’, on behalf of Ukip Hampshire. But Ukip’s county group leader Chris Wood said the party did not endorse or authorise it.
The leaflet was created and sent by an online company called DocMail. Its managing director Dave Broadway said it did not check content as it could be personal, and that the leaflet had most likely been sent as part of a free trial, meaning fake details could be given.
The person behind the ‘Paddy Graham’ persona has even set up a Facebook profile using a picture of a man from Kent taken from a golf website and he has been adding other councillors and Ukip members, as well as many teenagers, as friends.
He has also written letters to The News, again criticising the Lib Dems. When contacted by a reporter, the person using the ‘Paddy Graham’ email address admitted being behind the leaflets, but refused to meet or speak on the phone.
They said: ‘I believe the leaflets echo the sentiment of residents in Fareham at the moment. Whittle and Trott are past their sell-by dates and need to go now.’
‘The Lib Dems are finished. They have taken voters for granted for many years.’
HARD TO PIN DOWN
‘PADDY Graham’ says he lives in Portchester and he has previously lived in Oxford.
However, The News contacted Ukip’s Oxford branch and its chairman Ian Macdonald said their Paddy Graham was real and working there in ‘a rural location without phone signal’ and has no links with Fareham or the leaflets.
Mr Macdonald also confirmed that the impostor’s email and Facebook profile picture did not match with their Paddy Graham.
In an email, the Portchester ‘Paddy Graham’ said: ‘I have been a member previous to this for four or five years when I lived in Oxford.
‘I have lived in the borough for just under a year now. I have been specifically requested not to mention previous elections.
‘In my spare time I like to play tennis and I am a plumber by trade.’
There are no Paddy Grahams registered on the electoral roll in Fareham.
Lib Dems fight back with their own positive flyers
WARD councillor Katrina Trott has launched her own leaflet campaign to try to combat the accusations.
She said the mystery person even had the cheek to post both leaflets to her address.
Her leaflet says: ‘Local people know just how hard Katrina Trott works as our councillor in Fareham East. No wonder they’ve been disgusted by recent personal attacks on her by people, some of whole appear to hide behind false identities
‘Just for the record, here’s a quick summary of what Katrina does for us – a 100 per cent record of attendance at Fareham’s full council meetings, plus attending the other committees on which she serves.’
It goes on to list her involvement with numerous panels, such as health and housing, planning and development, leisure and community, streetscene and public protection.
It also says she attends other meetings that are not recorded on the official attendance record, plus that she is an active volunteer at various clubs.
Lib Dem Cllr Trott said she was disgusted by the dirty tactics being used.
She said: ’We have never had anything like this in Fareham East before, let alone in Fareham.
‘It is a vicious attack but my record stands for itself.’
Cllr Trott has even received support from Cllr Sean Woodward, the Tory council leader.
‘Katrina is a hard-working councillor,’ he said.