‘I would like to apologise to Richard Foord’ – East Devon MP Simon Jupp’s campaign manager admits buying websites in rival MP’s name

East Devon MP Simon Jupp’s campaign manager has admitted he bought websites that redirected supporters of the political rival to his boss’s site.

Earlier this month the pressure was on Conservative Simon Jupp to explain why the web addresses – RichardFoord.co.uk, RichardFoord.com and RichardFoord.uk – sent users to Mr Jupp’s website.

Detective work by Liberal Democrat Tiverton and Honiton MP, Richard Foord – who in the next general election will stand against the East Devon MP for the new constituency of Honiton and Sidmouth – found the web domains had been bought and registered by Oliver Kerr, Mr Jupp’s campaign manager.

Mr Foord said the actions were a ‘new low for the Conservative party’, adding Mr Jupp’s office had ‘acted deceitfully, and without integrity’ using ‘dishonest election campaign tactics’, prompting him to report his findings to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner for investigation

Oliver Kerr, who is employed by Mr Jupp’s office, said he was sorry for his actions, that he acted alone in buying the websites and has since ceased ownership of the domain names.

He said: “I would like to apologise to Richard Foord for buying these website domains.

“I bought them independently. I wasn’t asked to buy them by anyone. I regret my actions and no longer own the website domains in question.”

Simon Jupp, East Devon MP, always stated he was ‘not responsible for the web domains’ in his rival’s name.

On learning his campaign manager had been behind the websites, Mr Jupp said: “The individual responsible has apologised for making an error of judgement, without my knowledge or approval, and no longer owns the website domains in question.

“That is the right thing to do and I am glad he’s apologised and reflected on his actions.”

Richard Foord solved the mystery surrounding the websites after he made a Data Release Request to Nominet – the organisation who oversees .uk and .co.uk domains.

The request provided him with information that the domain richardfoord.uk was registered by Oliver Kerr, Mr Jupp’s Head of Office, who is also his campaign manager, a paid Conservative Party role.

Mr Foord has written to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner calling for the matter to be looked at formally from a Parliamentary Code of Conduct perspective.

Mr Foord said: “This is a new low for the Conservative party. Just this week, we have seen Conservative MPs caught in a honey trap, trapped in a flat, and now a local Conservative MP seeking to trick the public with an online trap.

“In my time as MP, many people in Mid and East Devon who have needed help have been able to contact me through my website. Yet we now find out that the office of Simon Jupp attempted to divert the public with dishonest election campaign tactics.

“In the Army, we learned about integrity – it’s a core value in our Armed Forces. These values of honesty and integrity should be key to all those in public life too.

“The Office of Simon Jupp have acted deceitfully, and without integrity.”

He added: “This behaviour has no place in Devon. That is why I have reported this issue to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner for investigation.”

It has been reported by the BBC that Nick Wenban-Smith, head of legal at Nominet, said the company could look into the original registry of disputed domain names.

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