Following the Labour Party’s admission yesterday, following exposure by Michael Fabricant, that they have indeed registered 4 websites in the name of Michael Howard the Leader of the Opposition, Michael Fabricant today tabled Commons questions about the "bogus" websites and written to the Electoral Commission. See News Release of the 27th September
Michael, who is Shadow Minister for Industry and Technology, said that this practice of "cyber-squatting" – registering websites in the name of someone else – had been deplored by the Government and was in direct contravention to the guidelines of the Electoral Commission. In the Electoral Commission’s report last year on online political campaigning, it criticised the activity. It said, ‘Cyber-squatting might be defined as the malicious registration of internet domain names for financial or, in some cases, political gain… The practice of cyber-squatting is potentially a more damaging trend for political campaigners and, indeed, for electors seeking legitimate campaign information… it is clearly important that voters can identify genuine campaign material from parties or candidates, and be assured that it is legitimate’ (Electoral Commission, Online election campaigns: report and recommendations, 3 June 2003).
Mr Fabricant said he had also written a letter of complaint to Sam Younger, Chairman of the Electoral Commission, requesting: "Can you intervene to ensure that these bogus websites are not used by the Labour Party in a misleading ‘dirty tricks’ campaign against Michael Howard and the Conservative Party in contravention to your recommendations?"
The MP has also tabled Parliamentary questions to Mike O’Brien, a Minister from the Department of Trade and Industry.
Mr Fabricant, MP for Lichfield, said: "I shall be asking him what he intends to do about this given that in a public statement a few weeks ago he said that the Government deplored this activity. Yet Labour have now admitted to it and yet they are the party of Government."