A Conservative candidate has been caught on camera setting up a chat with a friendly voter after he left his microphone on while being filmed.
Lee Anderson, who is standing in Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, is shown in a MailPlus video knocking on a door to a voter called “Steve” and introducing himself. Steve says says he will back Mr Anderson.
However, the encounter seems to have been set up in advance, as journalist Michael Crick shows a clip of Mr Anderson arranging the door knock over the phone while standing away from the camera but oblivious to the microphone attached to him.
Mr Crick said he was later alerted that his producer caught the encounter being set up.
In the clip, before knocking on Steve’s door, Mr Anderson gives instructions over the phone to someone, telling them they should say he knows Mr Anderson as a candidate but not as a friend.
He tells the caller he will see him shortly before hanging up, returning to Mr Crick and saying: “Some leaflets have just come for me.”
Mr Anderson made headlines last week when he proposed that anti-social tenants should be put in tents in fields and made to pick potatoes, but he did not want to discuss the idea when asked by Mr Crick.
Caught in the act! Meet Lee Anderson, Conservative candidate for Ashfield, who forgets his MailPlus mic is on. Click here to see our film and his ruse to set MailPlus up with unusually friendly voter. https://t.co/0gFSdXnFLk— Michael Crick (@MichaelLCrick) November 25, 2019
But during the door knock, Steve tells Mr Anderson he not only backed the policy, but that tenants should be whipped and forced to wear pink tutus, to Mr Anderson’s embarrassment.
Mr Crick said he had “long suspected” election candidates set up friendly voters to appear more popular.
“But this is the first time we’ve caught some candidate blatantly in the act,” he said, adding “we should be a little bit more sceptical about what we see on screen”.
Gloria De Piero, who is not standing for re-election, has held the seat for Labour since 2010. The Tories came within 500 votes of winning the seat in 2017.