Apology issued over 'lies' printed in Portsmouth City Council election material by Conservative party

A COUNCILLOR accused of printing ‘lies’ in election material issued in his role as a promoter for a Conservative election candidate has settled the legal case and issued a formal apology.

By Josh Wright
Tuesday, 26th April 2022, 9:00 am

Councillor Rob New, who represents Copnor for the party and is the chairman of the Portsmouth North Conservatives Association, said he made 'an honest mistake' in a letter he distributed on behalf of Paulsgrove candidate Andy Macfarlane.

The letter, sent to postal voters in the ward this month, claimed Portsmouth Independents Party councillor George Madgwick would receive £40,000 for the role, criticising his decision to also stand for election to Winchester City Council and describing him as 'a greasy pole climber'.

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Cllr Robert New, the chairman of the Portsmouth North Conservatives Association

Cllr Madgwick is not restanding for election this year, although his father Brian is.

‘It turns out what I wrote was wrong,’ Cllr New said. 'I have been corrected by elections officers about the four-year cycle and felt apologising for making that mistake was the right thing to do.

'It was my mistake and I hold my hands up for that.'

Alongside issuing the apology, he has also agreed to pay the £230 claimed in compensation, which is mostly to cover the cost of printing and distributing a rebuttal letter issued in response.

George Madgwick who has received an apology over misleading election material Picture: Stuart Martin (220421-7042)

‘Upon review of your claim, as the election agent responsible for creating and promoting literature as per the imprint, I was incorrect in the information that I wrote and have been corrected,’ Cllr New said in a formal response to Cllr Madgwick. ‘I take full responsibility and apologise for my mistake.’

He had originally said the claim was ‘factually correct’ and accused Cllr Madgwick of being thin-skinned.

Cllr Madgwick said he had accepted the apology but called into question the position of Mr Macfarlane, should he be elected next week.

‘I always respect someone who is willing to acknowledge they've made a mistake and apologise for it,' he said. 'That's a good thing for politics and I hope that by taking a stand I’ve dissuaded people from doing it again in the future.

‘But I think it’s a valid position to hold that should he be elected, which would have been done off the back of false information, that he should stand down and a new election be held.’

The candidates for election in the Paulsgrove ward are:

Nicky Dodd - Liberal DemocratRaj Ghosh - Labour PartyAndy MacFarlane - Conservative PartyBrian John Madgwick - Portsmouth Independents, Putting Paulsgrove First