A LIBERAL Democrat election leaflet in the style of a newspaper is being distributed in Oxford, similar to ones which have been criticised by editors of local papers across the UK.

The 'Oxford West and Abingdon Observer' leaflet promoting Liberal Democrat candidate Layla Moran is written in the style of a local newspaper.

It is being distributed in an area covered by the Oxford Mail and its sister paper the Abingdon Herald.

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Earlier today, a Lib Dem leaflet entitled the Mid Hampshire Gazette was criticised by the editor of the Basingstoke Gazette for blurring the lines between the local newspaper and political promotion.

A similar leaflet is also being distributed in a Leeds constituency.

Liberal Democrat Agent Neil Fawcett defended the leaflet being distributed in Oxford and Abingdon.

Mr Fawcett said: “I am happy to confirm that Lib Dem volunteers are delivering a campaign newspaper across Oxford West and Abingdon constituency. It says, in the heading, in 13pt text, ‘Paid for and delivered by Liberal Democrat volunteers’. I think this is very clear.” 

There has been backlash from newspaper chiefs across the country, including from Newsquest, the company which owns the Oxford Mail, Abingdon Herald and Basingstoke Gazette.

Toby Granville, Newsquest editorial director, has threatened to tell editors to boycott Lib Dem campaign news unless the pamphlets are pulled.

The Society of Editors, an organisation which represents local newspapers across the UK, also condemned the Lib Dem campaign leaflets.

In a written statement the SoE said the leaflets were a 'concerted effort by the Liberal Democrats to mislead readers and voters by disguising their election freesheet as imitation local newspapers.'