Labour's Twitter tsar and parliamentary candidate Kerry McCarthy has leaked details of postal votes in her Bristol constituency on the micro-blogging site.
According to a report by the Daily Telegraph, McCarthy breached electoral law by giving details of a constituency postal vote count to her 5,800 followers on Twitter. The matter has been referred by Bristol City Council to Avon and Somerset police, who will decide whether or not to charge the government whip and former solicitor.
The candidate for Bristol East was appointed by the party to encourage other MPs to use interactive media. She told her 5,823 followers that Labour had received far more votes from an early batch than the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and other parties – and gave specific figures for each.
Section 66 of the 1983 Representation of the People Act forbids ‘any statement relating to the way in which voters have voted at the election' before polls close. She deleted the tweet and posted a response stating: ‘On reflection, I've deleted. It's not counting, just random exercise'.
A statement from Miss McCarthy was later issued by the Labour Party. It said: “On hearing the results of a random and unscientific sample of postal votes, I posted them on Twitter. It was a thoughtless thing to do, and I very quickly realised that it was not appropriate to put such information in the public domain.”
Eb Adeyeri, digital director at Lewis Communications, said: “This is a major mistake, especially for somebody who is supposed to be their party's expert in digital communication.
“The cardinal rule with any social media always has to be: think before you post. It may take seconds to post but the damage can be long-lasting and profound. The immediacy of social media means some users are becoming increasingly trigger-happy when posting on sites like Twitter and Facebook. They are throwing caution to the wind in the race to be first with the news instead of considering the consequences.”