Opendemocracy: the Libdems tried to censor our article about their sale of voter data, then used a forged email to intimidate us

Originally published at:


“We have suspended a member of staff involved and are following due process.”

Is it usual for parties to sell out their supporters in this way? Was there and opt out box on the LibDem’s sign-up form?


For anyone curious about the whole Brexit mess, the “Brexit” film is a good primer.


We have no idea if they really did anything to this member of staff, assuming it even was one person. It could just as well be the next level of deception.


No kidding. If you get caught forging evidence to try to discredit journalists, it’s pretty hard to expect anyone to believe anything you say on the matter.


If you’re looking for a sleazeball law firm to cover up your UK-based organisation’s dodgy behaviour, it would seem that there are more competent choices than the clowns at Goodman Derrick.


I don’t think many Libdem voters would mind having their data shared with the Remain campaign. It’s the cover up that’s totally bizarre.

1 Like

“mistake had been made”

Christ how I despise the passive voice, up with which we shall not put.


It sounds to me like someone should have sent a statement, fucked up and didn’t, then lied about it and tried to cover it up, fucking up further in the process.

The silence in response to OpenDemocracy asking about it is the realisation that someone’s fucked up and the “a mistake was made” is holding statement while they work out who fucked up and how badly.

Still, not a good look, though.

Disclaimer: am a Lib Dem


The active voice may not be better. Many years ago I spent a short time commuting by train in the UK. I used to get very angry at an automated announcement that would say “Your train will not be running today. I am sorry for the inconvenience”. I? Not we. The only entity within National Rail that cared that I wasn’t going home was a machine. Not even an AI, just a voice recording.


This is pretty typical behavior for the kind of people who seek out political power. As long as people keep voting for these shitheads because someone else is arguably worse, this kind of behavior will never change.

Eh, they’re still the least reprehensible option from this year’s parade of vermin.

That’d be the Greens. :wink:


I’m surprised anyone still votes LibDem after 2010. The last thing anyone who voted LD wanted was for the Tories to get in, and yet what did we get? David (allegedly) pig-fucking Cameron.
In my constituency at the next election they lost 10,000 votes and went from holding the seat to fourth. This year they’re not even standing (part of the election pact with the Greens).

Weirdly, they seem to be intent on doubling down as being the ‘Tory-lite’ party these last few years, which I’m pretty sure no one was asking for, least of all their previous voters.


It’s the season of dragging apologies out of politicians, it seems.

I doubt we’ll see Johnson apologise for anything, ever.

1 Like

That’s the bit that surprised me. Failing to notice that the date prominently displayed on your attached evidence(never mind the other discrepancies that suggest the email may have been a response to a different article or just a quick and shoddy composite job; and the fact that a print-to-pdf isn’t exactly proof of an email ever having been sent…) is doesn’t fit the timeline without exotic atemporal causality seems like very basic getting-important-details-right stuff.

Makes me wonder if the…litigant friendly…state of UK libel/defamation/etc. law engenders an ‘eh, why try harder?’ attitude towards intimidation jobs of this type, since the standard suitable to the purpose is often pretty low; or if this outfit simply isn’t very detail-oriented in general; or if the error was on the LibDem staffer side(presumably cascading from whatever original failure to respond to the press request for comment and any subsequent ass-covering); and the firm is accustomed to periodically doing “just add letterhead and scary legal” touch-ups to material primarily prepped for them by the client.

If the mistake weren’t so blatant as to be visible even in the (conveniently…) metadata-scrubbing(unless they screwed that up too) PDF print version; I’d also wonder if they have some proudly and/or obliviously tech-ignorant and self-important people around.

You don’t exactly need to be a nerd who knows their RFCs to be aware that timestamping and metadata of various sorts are things that basically any remotely contemporary electronic communication produces in spades. Could just be laziness; but I can’t shake the image of some partner who cut his teeth back when sending your secretary to photocopy something was pretty cutting edge failing to understand that you can’t just wave a piece of paper around and claim it’s evidence adequate to establish a remotely plausible claim about an act of digital communication.


but the Tories don’t style themselves “the party of liberty.”

How in fuck’s name does that sort of logic get past the moral outrage filter at BB?

So, by inference, Mr Doctorow says the Libdems are bad because they aren’t blatantly shitty like others, they just mishandle a loose cannon and then keep mismanaging the matter.

But the Tories are vanilla shitty, so get a free pass.
That is pretty much the kind of rationalization that Trump supporters use.

Call them (Libdems) incompetent, sure, but how do you get to paint them as worse sinners because they set out to be decent and just fucked up?

1 Like

I think a worse disappointment. I don’t think any reading of this would make you think @doctorow would prefer a Tory government to a LibDem one.


They’re not being painted as worse, it’s just that the Tories being shitty isn’t news.


Shows what I know. He actually got prodded into apologising for saying that burkha-wearers look like bank-robbing letterboxes.


The only hope that the non-Tory parties have this election is that they can keep BoJo from getting an outright majority. It isn’t helping that they’re campaigning against each other so nastily.

In this case, the LDP getting lawyers to pressurize OD is ridiculous, but there is truth to some of the assertions in the letter; using the current LDP’s photo to illustrate a story about old news, before her time, doesn’t make sense except as a political tactic. (OD was founded by solid Labour members, and has no pretensions of being independent.(*))

(*)ETA: For which reason it is likewise silly that the LDP should care so much what they print.

1 Like