Tory candidate denies wrongdoing after being accused of 'harvesting' e-mail addresses for election

Conservative Jacob Young has been criticised after allegedly “harvesting” e-mail addresses to send unsolicited election communications.

Labour ’s Carl Quartermain claimed on Facebook that Mr Young, who is fighting to retain his Redcar seat in next month’s General Election, had “harvested your data for political canvassing”.

A spokesman for Mr Young dismissed Councillor Quartermain’s comments and any suggestion of wrongdoing. He said the intention had been merely to inform people who had “explicitly" contacted the former’s office during his term in Parliament about the impending General Election on July 4 and his resulting change of status, not to attract their vote.

Cllr Quartermain said residents who had contacted Mr Young’s office to seek support over a matter had seen their e-mails “gathered onto one big database”. This was to “send you desperate pleading e-mails and without the opportunity to unsubscribe,” he said.

Cllr Quartermain, a cabinet member on Redcar and Cleveland Council, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “Data collection for e-mail purposes isn’t new and it is a political strategy, but one that must come with disclaimers.

“We [Labour] have had complaints from people who also say they have never e-mailed or been in contact with him [Mr Young].” He said he planned to complain to the Information Commissioner’s Office about a potential breach of GDPR (General Data Protection Rules).

Posting on X, Jon Rathmell, a Nunthorpe parish councillor and former independent on Middlesbrough Council, flagged up a message he received, stating he did not live in Mr Young’s Redcar constituency. Cllr Rathmell suggested Mr Young needed to be reminded of Parliamentary boundaries and questioned whether he was attempting to “poach constituents” from his neighbouring Conservative candidate in Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, Sir Simon Clarke.

He said he would not vote for a Conservative as they had been “a total disaster”.

The e-mail from Mr Young referenced the dissolution of Parliament when he would stop being an MP and become a political candidate instead, and said his office team would still be on hand to deal with any urgent issues. It said: “I have loved being an MP over the past four and-a-half years, as the first MP for our area that is actually from Teesside.”

The e-mail message also said: “If I have been helpful to you over these last few years and you are supporting me in this election, please let me know.”

A spokesman for Mr Young said: “People who explicitly contacted the office of Jacob Young during his term as MP for Redcar were contacted to inform them of the change of circumstances as a result of a General Election being called. Anybody who replies to say they do not wish to be contacted in the future will be immediately removed from our contacts.”

Mr Young is defending a 3,527 majority in Redcar from the 2019 General Election. Other candidates standing are Anna Turley (Labour and Co-operative Party), Chris Jones (Liberal Democrats), Ruth Hatton (Green Party), John Davies (Reform UK) and Gary Conlin (Social Democratic Party).

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