UK

Lib Dems launch investigation into Norman Lamb campaign

Norman Lamb Image copyright PA
Image caption Two members of Norman Lamb's team are understood to left as a result of the claims

Update 10 June 2016: Following an investigation by the party, Mark Gettleson and the other volunteer were cleared.

The Liberal Democrats have launched an investigation into allegations Norman Lamb's leadership campaign team may have breached data protection rules.

One volunteer has resigned and another is understood to have left over the claims, in the Independent on Sunday.

The paper says some party members claim they were polled by phone by someone they believed to be from Lib Dem HQ rather than Mr Lamb's personal team.

The party is considering referring the matter to the Information Commissioner.

Mr Lamb, the MP for North Norfolk and former care minister, is running against Tim Farron, former party president, for the Lib Dem leadership following the resignation of Nick Clegg.

Mark Gettleson, a strategic communications and research professional, confirmed he had resigned, saying he regretted "any harm done to Norman Lamb and his campaign".

'Decisive'

The Independent on Sunday reported accusations that the line of questioning in the apparent "opinion poll" may have gone into territory which could have cast doubt on Mr Farron's suitability.

A Liberal Democrat spokesperson said: "We have been made aware of an alleged breach of party rules and are looking into the issue as a matter of urgency.

"The Liberal Democrats take any alleged breaches of party rules extremely seriously. The party has contacted both teams to reiterate rules on the leadership process."

Mr Lamb told the newspaper: "Volunteer members of my team acted without my authority. As soon as it was clear what had happened, I had to be decisive and removed them from my campaign.

"As soon as I saw Tim I talked to him about it and said I won't tolerate it from my campaign.

"In a situation we [the Lib Dems] are in at the moment we cannot allow ourselves to fall out or behave irresponsibly."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Tim Farron is also running to become the new Liberal Democrat leader

It is understood there will be a formal discussion with the party's data controller on Monday regarding a potential referral to the Information Commissioner.

Mr Gettleson said the poll in question - which was conducted on Thursday and Friday last week - had been carried out to gauge the state of the race between the two candidates on issues.

He said the poll was "within the appropriate boundaries of campaigning and research practice", but said he regretted any offence caused to Mr Farron.

"I think that as long as the questions asked and points made are fair and factual, then Liberal Democrat members deserve to know the full facts about their leadership candidates - and they should know them before they vote, not after," he said.

He added: "I wrote questions about these issues to see if there was empirical evidence that other members also share that view - a view that has been unquestionably confirmed by the poll's results."

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