Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Green has come under fire for posting fake newspapers through letterboxes in her Chesham and Amersham constituency in the run-up to the general election.

Critics said copies of the ‘Chesham & Amersham News Courier’ distributed by Green’s office in recent weeks represented a type of political campaigning that was ‘damaging to democracy’.

However, a Liberal Democrats spokesperson claimed that the party had clearly branded its campaign materials and pointed to fake newspapers distributed by Gareth Williams, the Conservative candidate for Chesham and Amersham, which do not clearly state who has paid for or published them.

Green’s own mock newspapers praise her record since being elected in the 2021 by-election and carry a large, capitalised headline reading: ‘residents say it should be Sarah’.

A fine line of text below the masthead of the fake newspapers states that they are free leaflets ‘paid for by the Liberal Democrats and delivered by the Royal Mail’.

The leaflets are published by Candy Piercy, a senior Lib Dem official, whose company Midas Training Solutions, has received £120,000 of taxpayers’ money from Green’s office to provide training, consultancy and other services.

READ MORE: Lib Dem MP Sarah Green paid £120k of taxpayers' cash to firm run by own party members

The recent circulation of Green’s leaflets comes after Lib Dem president Mark Pack issued new guidance to party activists in March about the use of mocked up tabloid newspapers to reach voters during campaigns.

In an open letter, he urged campaigners to ‘make sure all tabloid leaflets are clearly identifiable as being from and paid for by the Liberal Democrats on the front page’, adding that this has been the advice ‘for some time’.

His guidance on the use of fake newspapers was welcomed at the time by the Dawn Alford, executive director of industry body, the Society of Editors.

However, in a fresh statement this week, Alford criticised Green’s campaigning, saying that the Society was ‘once again disappointed to see another MP disguising party political material in the guise of a local newspaper’.

She told the Bucks Free Press: “This format is unacceptable and alongside being damaging to democracy, it greatly undermines the work of the actual local media as a trusted source of independent news and information.

“The fake newspaper distributed by Sarah Green MP also appears, on first glance, to flout guidance issued by the Liberal Democrat chairman earlier this year which advised that all correspondence should be clearly identifiable on the front page as being from, and paid for, by the Liberal Democrat Party.”

Some Chesham and Amersham voters have also criticised the fake newspapers, while others said leafletting by politicians was to be expected ahead of the next general election, expected to be held this autumn.

One resident, who did not wish to be named, said: “I didn’t vote for her and didn’t get a choice this time either so why am I receiving this comic. The money it cost to produce it could have gone towards sorting the pothole issue here.”

However, another voter said: “I think it’s funny that people get wound up with leaflets being delivered. Yes, they might go in the bin but it’s an election year.

“Surely we should expect the candidates to be leafletting and campaigning otherwise it will be those same people complaining that they don’t know who to vote for as they never hear from them.”

The resident added that Green and her team had helped him stop random vehicles registering at his address by getting the DVLA to block it so fraudsters could not register there without further documentation.

A Liberal Democrat spokesperson said: “All political parties use this form of communication.

“We’ve recently rolled out guidelines for these tabloid campaign leaflets which sees them clearly identified as being from and paid for by the Liberal Democrats on the front page, unlike the Conservatives.

“This new guidance goes further than political parties’ legal requirements. It’s crucial that this type of tabloid campaigning literature states clearly it comes from a political party.”

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