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The chairman of the Conservative Party shared the phone numbers of two constituents on Twitter/X, in a now-deleted post praising Rishi Sunak’s party conference speech.
In a post on Twitter/X claiming “Plenty of constituents getting in touch loving the [Rishi Sunak] speech!”, Hands shared screenshots from various WhatsApp chats – leading some to question why and how constituents would have his mobile phone number. One user replied, before the post was deleted: “Constituents have your WhatsApp number, do they?”
However, at least one Twitter/X user found that by brightening one of the screenshots, two people’s full phone numbers and, separately, a full name of someone in Hands’ contacts was visible.
Byline Times has spoken to both of these people whose numbers were shared, who we are not naming as they are not prominent figures. They confirmed that their praise of Sunak’s speech was shared in a local Conservative party WhatsApp group of which they were members – rather than being random members of the public getting in touch with the Tory chairman.
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One of those whose number was leaked in the now-deleted post – seen over 5,000 times on social platform X – told this outlet: “We’ve got a group chat with what’s happening in and around the area, particularly when it comes to politics. And obviously this week the chat was about the party conference.” Asked to confirm if it was a local Conservative group she replied: “Correct, exactly.”
Asked if she was concerned her phone number had been shared by the Conservative Party chair, she added: “That’s not brilliant because it can cause…Yes, I mean, I wouldn’t want it going to 10 billion people around the world.”
Levelling Up secretary Michael Gove was reportedly told off by security for smoking on the balcony at a party in Greg Hands’ hotel room earlier in the week, according to Politico.
Hands also came under fire for refusing to condemn London mayoral candidate Susan Hall’s divisive comments claiming that the Jewish community was “frightened” of Labour mayor Sadiq Khan, who is a Muslim. And tweets resurfaced where the Conservative chairman backed pressing on with HS2 in 2019, claiming it was ‘”vital.”
Mark Kieran, CEO of democracy campaign group Open Britain, told Byline Times: “It’s astonishing that the man at the very top of the Conservative Party should seek to mislead the public about something so central to our democracy as the PM’s conference speech. How can we expect democracy to work properly when senior politicians are free to mislead the public with impunity?
“This shows how dysfunctional our democracy has become and highlights the urgent need for reforms such as those set out in Open Britain’s recent report, ‘UK Democracy Goals: A Plan for Functional Democracy by 2030’”.
Greg Hands MP has been contacted for comment.
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