News

SoE writes to Lib Dem leader over newspaper-style freesheets

Posted on: February 16, 2021 by Ian Murray

The Society of Editors has written to Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey to ask him to take action over the party’s continued publication of newspaper-style political freesheets.

The move comes following news of yet another Lib Dem publication which appears to ape a similar title in its area. The Welwyn and Hatfield News is published by the party to promote its cause but does not appear to make plain it is a partisan publication on its front page.

Although it is different in design to the local weekly newspaper The Welwyn and Hatfield Times, it is laid out in the style of a local news publication.

The move has angered the Times which hit out at the political publication yesterday.

The publication is the latest by the Lib Dems to cause controversy. Earlier this year the party published a similar political freesheet in Northampton which prompted the Society of Editors to condemn the actions as part of its  Campaign for Real News.

The controversy follows concerns raised during the 2019 general election when the Lib Dems created two political freesheets that aped local newspapers in Basingstoke and Leeds. 

Ian Murray, executive director of the SoE commented: “It seems that no matter how many times this issue is raised the Lib Dems continue to pretend there is not a problem here.

“The simple fact is that if the party were serious about not attempting to mislead the public in this way then a plain – and large – Lib Dems logo on the front page of their local publications would do the trick.

“It just doesn’t seem to make sense for the party to continue down this road, upsetting the local newspaper who I’m certain wishes to treat them in the same way as all other parties when it comes to coverage, and appearing to mislead the public.

“In my letter to Mr Davey I have asked him to intervene to sort this matter out once and for all.”