Emily Maitlis Calls Out The Conservative Press Office For Pretending To Be A Fact Checking Service, Wins The Leadership Debate

‘Why would you have to change it to "factcheckUK" if people believed you when you when you just put CCHQ?’

Emily Maitlis

by Georgia Aspinall |
Updated on

During ITV’s Leadership Debate last night, the Conservative HQ Press Office renamed their Twitter account to ‘factcheckUK’, intentionally misleading the public to believe they were fact checking Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party. As a result, Emily Maitlis called out the deceptive campaign tactic and held James Cleverly, Conservative chairman, to account.

‘While [Boris Johnson] was answering questions on integrity, your own Conservative press office was pretending to be a fact checks service,’ she told Cleverly. ‘You’ve renamed yourself with a credibility tick “factcheckuk”, you are misleading the public, you are trying to coat your propaganda as hardened fact.

Defending the campaign choice, Cleverly stated the because the actual Twitter handle for CCHQ stayed the same, the nature of the site was ‘clear’. Saying that they wanted to ‘call out inaccuracies coming during of the debate’, his defence did not stand up against Maitlis’s next question.

‘You were misleading the public,’ she repeated, before asking, ‘why would you have to change it to something that said factcheck if people believed you when you when you just put CCHQ?’

Her questions have since been well recieved online, with many people also sharing a statement from actual fact check service, Full Fact, that called the tactic ‘inappropriate and misleading’ and asked readers not to ‘mistake it for an independent fact checking service.’

The tactic was not just misleading, it was dangerous. Because, at a time when trust in politicians and the media is so low, there has never been a more important time to exercise integrity in the press. This is an account that retweets joke memes about Jeremy Corbyn, opinions from Johnson’s supporters and conflates Tory campaign promises with actual facts.

During the time CCHQ’s name was ‘factcheck UK’, they tweeted not only that Labour would ‘hurt hard pressed families’ but that they’d ‘take away your family home’ and ‘don’t want to help people succeed’ - both entirely subjective opinions, not facts.

During the time CCHQ’s name was ‘factcheckUK’, they tweeted that Labour ‘don’t want to help people succeed’

All of these opinions cannot be shared as fact, and while the CCHQ Twitter handle may have stayed the same, it sits in smaller font, below the larger Twitter name that was ‘factcheckUK’ – it has now been changed back to CCHQ Press – with a verification tick next to it.

In fact, had CCHQ changed their Twitter handle also, they would have lost their verification tick altogether. Because, all you have to prove on Twitter is that your @ handle is who you are, to change it means the entire process of verifying who you are starts again. However, your name on Twitter is not subject to these standards and can be changed any time.

So, the glaring implication of this is that CCHQ chose to keep their handle the same and only change their name because the tactic would not have been as successful without the verification tick. As it stands last night, they could have fooled millions of Twitter users who simply see the name, verification badge and tweet and associate them all as fact from a real service.

Ironically, one of the main themes of the Leadership debate was bringing integrity back into politics.

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Click Through: All of the most infamous lies Boris Johnson has ever told...


All The Lies Boris Johnson Has Told As A Public Figure (That We Know Of)

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When he lied about there being press at a hospital to a man confronting him about ‘destroying the NHS’

Here's a new absolutely brazen lie captured on camera. Boris was confronted by a distraught father whose daughter almost died on an understaffed NHS ward. 'This ward is not safe for children,' Omar Salem told the Prime Minister as he walked past him in the hospital, 'There was one registrar covering the entirety of this ward and the neonatal unit. The NHS has been destroyed, it's been destroyed, it's been destroyed, and now you come here for a press opportunity!''Actually there's no press here,' Boris replied – as he was filmed by the group of press in the hospital. When pressed on whether it was a press opportunity, he said 'as far as I'm aware this is not a [inaudible].''This is a press opportunity. You didn't invite the press here? You didn't ask them to come? You don't have a press handler back here?' the father asked before Boris was ushered away as Omar accused him of living in 'La La Land.'With the Press Association sharing images of the event, and the BBC a video, it's fair to assume the hospital visit did include press. In fact, earlier in the visit Boris appeared to pose for pictures pouring tea with NHS staff.

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When he allegedly lied to the Queen about why he was suspending parliament

Also his go-to line to the public, Boris has stated the proroguing parliament will allow for a new set of legislation when parliament returns on the 14th October. However, given the UK is set to leave the EU on the 31st October, many – his peers included – believe he suspended parliament to prevent scrutiny from MPs about whatever deal – or no deal - he delivers.Given it's ultimately the Queen's decision to suspend parliament – on advice from the PM – Boris has been accused of lying to her about his real motives. In fact, it has even been put to the Supreme Court to decide. Boris, of course, denies lying to her.

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When he made many a false promise as London Mayor

Where to even begin? In his 2008 manifesto, Boris promised manned ticket stations at every train station in London. Subsequently, he instead went for widespread closures that would fund a 24-hour tube. According to MP Wes Streeting, Boris spent £46million of taxpayer money in efforts to build the Garden Bridge that never was, £60m on construction, and £500,000 on running costs of an Emirates Airline – the most expensive cable car ever built – which only has four daily users. He called for a Boris Island Airport that would have cost £100billion even after the Airports Commission rejected the plans. He also 'campaigned against Londoners paying "the highest fares in Europe" and yet oversaw an increase of fares by an average of 4.2 per cent,' Wes tweeted, '[and] pledged not to allow the congestion charge to go above £8... It rose to £11.50 on his watch.'More terrifyingly, he promised to put an end to rough sleeping in London by 2012 – yet it doubled during his tenure as leader. He said police in London would increase in numbers despite government cuts – this was accused of being 'barefaced lies'. Plus, he claimed during the 2012 election that robberies were down 16.3% under his mayoralty - but independent analysis showed they actually rose by 18.8%. 'Crime started rising nationally in 2014 and continued to rise during his time in office,' Wes claimed, 'including an increase in homicides.'When the 2011 riots took place, he took ownership of getting London 'through the riots' despite being on holiday when it began and only coming home after public backlash.

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When he promised the NHS would receive £350m that was supposedly being spent on the EU

Backing the infamously untrue claim on the side of the Vote Leave bus, Boris repeated this sentiment even after the UK Statistics Authority called is 'misleading'. Stating it in a published article in the Telegraph, he said: 'once we have settled our accounts, we will take back control of roughly 350m per week. It would be a fine thing as many of us have pointed out if a lot of that money went on the NHS, provided we use that cash injection to modernise and make the most of new technology.'The problem here, as we've heard a thousand times, is that there is no evidence whatsoever that Brexit will make us better off to the tune of 350 million quid. Indeed, Sir David Norgrove, the chairman of the UK Statistics Authority, has criticized Johnson for reigniting debate about this spurious claim. In a letter to the Foreign Secretary, he has said 'I am surprised and disappointed that you have chosen to repeat the figure of £350m per week in connection with the amount that might be available for extra public spending when we leave the European Union.' As such, he faced private prosecution charges for deliberately lying during the campaign. Later, it was struck out by the High Court.He denies everything, with his lawyer saying: 'I should make it clear that because of the interest in this case that it is absolutely denied by Mr Johnson that he acted in an improper or dishonest manner at any time.'

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When he implied voting to remain in the EU was unpatriotic

In his Telegraph article for which he also reiterated the £350m figure, Boris wrote, 'I look at so many young people with the 12 stars lipsticked to their faces, and I am troubled with the thought that people are beginning to have genuinely split allegiances. And when people say that they feel they have more in common with others in Europe than with people who voted leave I want to say, but that is part of the reason why people voted leave.'Did Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, just imply that it was unpatriotic for young people to be pro-European Union? Did he just suggest that by being so they are, somehow, not loyal to their country? Does the Foreign Secretary sound ever so slightly nationalistic here?Let's be clear, last year's referendum result was far from definitive. Indeed, the result was nearly a 50:50 split. The Foreign Secretary may have allied himself with those who wanted to leave the EU, either as a result of his genuinely Eurosceptic ideology or because it seemed politically prudent to do so for his own career, but that does not discount the fact that the vote was split 51.9% to 48.1%, meaning that over 16 million people disagree with his definition of patriotism.Johnson added that he feels a 'transnational sense of allegiance can weaken the ties between us'. In a global world where we rely on having relationships with people in other countries for work as well as to deepen our understanding of the lives of others, his rhetoric is dangerously isolationist.

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When he said Brexit could solve the housing crisis

In another of his many egregious falsehoods in THAT fateful Telegraph article, Boris went on to state the following: 'And I can think of obvious ways in which Brexit can help us tackle the housing crisis – perhaps the single biggest challenge for the younger generation. There may be ways of simplifying planning procedures, post-Brexit, and abbreviating impact assessments – without in any way compromising the environment. It is often pointed out that the price of housing in certain parts of London may be increased by buyers from overseas. But there is no point in putting any kind of tax on foreign buyers because the inhabitants of 27 other countries cannot legally be treated as foreign. No one would want a tax that discouraged international investment and stopped good developments from happening. No one would want to send a signal that the London market was closed.'Remember when Jeremy Corbyn and his team not only said they would scrap tuition fees but implied they'd look at current graduate debts retrospectively in order to win over the youth vote during election time? That was calculated, this is cynical.Brexit cannot solve the housing crisis. We do need to relax our planning laws, that's true, but this has nothing to do with the EU and we are already building micro-homes in an attempt to solve the crisis. Do we want laws relaxed to the point where people are living in actual shoe boxes? No. British homes are already the smallest in Europe.Johnson also implies the EU investors have driven prices up, that's not strictly true. So-called 'foreign investors' from all over the world have been involved with buying up property and renting it out at a premium or leaving it empty across the country. Such speculation has exacerbated the crisis but it didn't cause it. We need laws which state that local homes should be offered to local people first, did the Foreign Secretary do anything about this as Mayor of London? No. Did the EU advise Southwark council to knock down the Heygate estate in South London, uproot its residents and build totally unaffordable housing in its place? No.We do not need Brexit to solve the housing crisis, we need more government investment and house building, not sticking plaster schemes like Help to Buy. We need councils to meet their building targets. We need regulation of the rental market. As Mayor of London Johnson oversaw the London Property market reach its apex, he watched the housing crisis bubble up to boiling point and did nothing. Foreign investors have played a role in our housing problems but compared with the selling off of public housing assets, inaction of British politicians and vested interested of the Buy to Let landlords in Westminster they're a mere itch.

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When he blamed the Hillsborough disaster on Liverpool fans

In 2004, 15 years after multiple newspapers wrongfully accused Liverpool fans of causing the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, Boris wrote an article for The Spectator making the same accusation. At this point, he was editor of the magazine and a tory MP for Henley. More than just accusing scouse fans of killing 96 people, he also contributed to the 'whingeing scousers' stigma by accusing Liverpool people of wallowing in their victim status. You know, because they were fighting to prove a police cover-up that would take near 30 years to prove true. Eight years later, he apologised, saying 'anyone, journalist or politician, should say sorry to the people of Liverpool – as I do – for misrepresenting what happened at Hillsborough.'

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When he made up a quote and was fired from The Times

Within months of being hired by The Times through family connections, Boris was sacked after he made up a quote in his first front page story. The story was about the discovery of the Rose Palace which was built by Edward II – whom was famously rumoured to be sexually involved with Piers Gaveston. 'The trouble was that somewhere in my copy I managed to attribute to Colin the view that Edward II and Piers Gaveston would have been cavorting together in the Rose Palace,' he said. 'Unfortunately, some linkside don at a provincial university spotted that by the time the Rose Palace was built, Piers Gaveston would long have been murdered. It was very nasty.'Boris then went on to fabricate another story about the issue, questioning the date the castle was built, after which he was sacked.

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When he lied about his extramarital affair

Having been made party vice-chairman and shadow arts minister for the Conservatives back in 2003, he assured Tory leader Michael Howard that tabloid rumours about his affair with Petronella Wyatt were not true. After calling the story an 'inverted pyramid of piffle', the affair was proven true. Of course, he refused to resign despite lying. As a result, he was sacked for dishonesty for the second time in his career.

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When he started Euroscepticism

After being fired from the Times, he became Brussels correspondent for The Daily Telegraph where he went on to write many articles dubbed 'Euromyths'. They were part of a larger series of Eurosceptic articles from various papers that implied Europe was threatening the British way of life. His claims included plans to change British sausages, bananas and ban prawn cocktail crisps – as well as introduce same size 'euro coffins'. All of them were dubbed false. Although, that hasn't stopped Boris believing them – because he brought out the same notion on his 2016 Vote Leave tour when he suggested the EU was changing the shape of bananas yet again, something debunked since 1994.

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When he was accused of saying 80 million Turkish people would come to Britain unless we left the EU

Yes, really. He's denied saying it – of course, but on the record is a letter he signed stating 'the only way to avoid having common borders with Turkey is to vote Leave and take back control.''Turkey (population 76 million) is joining the EU' a Vote Leave campaign poster also read, adding 'David Cameron wants Turkey to join the EU. How will our NHS cope?'His Turkish cousin went on to say of him: 'he doesn't strike me as being very honest about his views.'

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