General Election

Colum Eastwood condemns 'dirty tactics' fake election letter

SDLP leader, Colum Eastwood branded the fake letter as "dirty tactics".
Seamus McKinney

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood has condemned a fake letter sent to voters in Derry asking for financial contributions to his campaign.

Mr Eastwood denounced the letter as “dirty tactics from political opponents” in Derry where he is fighting to regain the Foyle seat lost to Sinn Féin’s Elisha McCallion in 2017 by just 169 votes.

Former SDLP leaders John Hume and Mark Durkan had held the seat since the establishment of the constituency in 1983.

The letter, which was personally addressed, claimed Mr Eastwood was facing a shortfall in financing his campaign and urged supporters to contribute before December 24.

The fake letter claimed the party had spent £35,000 on the campaign in Derry so far and needed contributions to make up a £20,000 short fall.

The SDLP leader: “Let me be clear, these letters are not from me nor are they from anyone associated with my campaign. This is an organised attempt to lie to the people of Derry, to poison our democratic process and those responsible should be ashamed.”

He added: “My team and I are running a positive campaign, focusing on how we can invest in Derry, make our communities a better place and work with others to stop Brexit.

“I made it clear weeks ago that the SDLP will engage in a clean campaign and I would take strong action if anyone was suspected of nasty personal attacks,” he said.

Sinn Féin candidate Mrs McCallion moved quickly to condemn the letter. In a brief statement, she said: “I condemn any fake election material from any source. I want to see this election campaign conducted in an open and democratic way.”

An SDLP spokesman said the letter had been referred to the Electoral Commission as a possible breach of election law.

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General Election