The Liberal Democrats have apologised to the Deeside Piper this week after an election leaflet misquoted our sister newspaper.
Following Electoral Commission concerns a resident contacted West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine (WAK) conservative candidate Alexander Burnett to express their concern.
The quote which was attributed to the Deeside Piper on the leaflet had been distrubuted throughout the constituency.
The leaflet currently being delivered across WAK is presented as a ‘fact sheet’ and contains three ‘Election Facts’.
Fact one states that Sir Robert has held the seat for 18 years and says that “there is no-one else better placed to stop the SNP in West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine.”
Below this ‘fact’ an embossed quotation stating: “Lib Dem [Robert Smith] can retain his north-east seat” is attributed to an issue of The Deeside Piper from March 2015.
Eli Harji, who works for the office of Sir Robert Smith, confirmed the mistake.
She said: “I can confirm that the quote in out [sic] leaflet has been attributed to the Piper, instead of the P&J.
“Please accept apologies from our campaign team in Edinburgh.
“No further leaflets will be printed using this statement. All efforts will be made to prevent further delivery of any other supplies held.”
However, only two days after assurances that the leaflet would not be distributed further, it was posted through the doors of a number of residents.
Sheila Thomson, who runs Sir Robert’s constituency office said: “Due to the size of the constituency we have a cascading delivery service.
“The campaign manager has contacted the area organisers and asked them to get the message to all the deliverers in their area. We are aware some went out on Wednesday...and a few in Auchenblae in the afternoon but before the message went out to stop delivering.”
Despite this, readers contacted the Piper again on Monday, April 13, to say that yet more of the known to be erroneous leaflet were being distributed.
Stonehaven Councillor Peter Bellarby who is also Sir Robert’s election agent has written to our sister paper which states: “Your reporter has drawn to the attention a mistake in one of our leaflets which we were in the course of delivering to some electors in West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine. There is a quotation in the leaflet: ‘Lib Dem [Robert Smith] can retain his north-east seat’. This is wrongly attributed to the Deeside Piper: March 2015, when in fact the quote appeared in the Press and Journal.
“I and the Lib Dem team apologise unreservedly for this mistake. We have taken immediate steps to stop any further delivery of this leaflet, which was intended to be delivered by volunteer deliverers. We have included this quotation in a further leaflet that we are producing, with the correct attribution, and including an apology for wrongly attributing the quote to the Deeside Piper in a previous leaflet.”