Tories’ King George A&E election leaflets ‘designed to mislead the public’
12:41 10 June 2014
An MP has promised to find out who was responsible for Conservative election leaflets distributed ahead of May’s council poll that were “designed to mislead the public”.
Labour politician and Ilford South MP Mike Gapes told MPs in the House of Commons yesterday he would doggedly pursue “the whole truth” regarding the election literature, posted through doors in the borough two days before Redbridge went to the polls.
Though Redbridge Tory group leader Councillor Paul Canal said the leaflet “put the record straight” after a Labour “misinformation” campaign.
The leaflet highlighted an “official announcement from the health secretary” and went on to say in large font: “KING GEORGE HOSPITAL IS NOT CLOSING. KING GEORGE A&E IS NOT CLOSING.”
Yesterday, the health secretary Jeremy Hunt told the Commons his statement was a “restating” of publicly available information.
In response to questions from Mr Gapes, Mr Hunt briefly addressed the matter.
“I will happily say this: what I said was completely in order because I was simply restating information publicly available on the trust’s website,” he said.
Mr Gapes, who has been MP for Ilford South since 1992, has already asked officials to examine whether the leaflet broke pre-election rules and is yet to have received a response.
On Tuesday, he suggested someone was responsible for wrongdoing.
He said: “Either the local Conservatives put out a leaflet knowing it not to be true, or the Secretary of State, one of his special advisors, or someone in the department, dressed it up to pretend it was an announcement.”
And in the Commons on Monday, Mr Gapes described the leaflets as being “designed to mislead the public in the few days before the election”.
On the leaflet - issued in the names of ultimately unsuccessfully Alborough ward council candidates Ruth Clark, Vanessa Cole and Thane Thaneswaran - Mr Hunt was quoted as saying changes to the A&E at King George Hospital, including its closure, would not take place until “there are further improvements in the quality of emergency care.”
Cllr Canal said: “Labour lied to residents in the 2010 Aldborough by-election and lied again in 2014, claiming King George A&E faced imminent closure.
He added: “Saving King George is, was and will be a Tory campaign.”
“Any claim to the contrary is not just disinformation, it’s a pack of lies. Labour lied - our leaflet put the record straight.”
Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas (Labour) said: “ I feel this is politics at its worst, when those who have decided to close the A&E and are then not prepared to acknowledge their own decisions because of the election cycle.
“I think we do need an investigation – I see this as pretty cynical and shameless on the part of the Tories.”
In July last year, a provisional date in the second quarter of 2015 was set for the closure of the Barley Lane hospital’s A&E.
Opposition to the axing of the department is a cause that unites Labour and Tory politicians in Redbridge.