Today is the day that the hacking and privacy invasion scandal moved inside the Conservative Party. After news broke yesterday that a justice minister faces an official investigation over “blagging”, it has now been revealed that Tory HQ paid private investigators to spy on the private lives of its own supporters.
The 2010 “I’ve never voted Tory before” campaign, widely spoofed on the web, featured members of the public who were new to supporting the party at the general election. But several candidates to be profiled in the adverts were rejected after the the official Conservative election campaign, run from CCHQ in Millbank Tower, paid for information on their sex lives and personal political activity.
The revelations come after months of assurances from David Cameron that the behaviour of staffers with prior links to privacy invasion, such as Andy Coulson, was beyond reproach while they worked for him:
“During his time working for me, Andy has carried out his role with complete professionalism.”
One was man rejected because of an extra-marital affair while another was rebuffed for connections with an insurgent political movement. While the Tories have claimed that the campaign of snooping was carried out “with the full knowledge and consent of the person involved”, one target told the Mirror that she was “astonished” that the party “knew everything” about her.
The developments will prompt yet more awkward questions for David Cameron and Eric Pickles, who was running the Millbank campaign HQ at the time.
Who within CCHQ authorised and funded this outrageous invasion of privacy?