Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Lucy Allan's 'Unless you die' email - one year on and here are my answers to 10 key questions

On 1st December 2015 Lucy Allan caused a national outcry when she published an email she had received from a constituent on her facebook page to which she had added the words 'Unless you die'. She claimed that those words came from a second email. One year on I give my answers to 10 key questions.        

1. Has Lucy Allan shown us the second email yet?

 After a year Lucy Allan has still not published the mysterious second email. I think we have more chance of catching a glimpse of the Loch Ness monster than the fabled second email. Many people have asked Lucy Allan on facebook and twitter why she will not publish the second email but they have been simply ignored and blocked.


2. But didn't Lucy Allan actually receive a death threat?

 It was reported that Lucy Allan received a death threat by telephone which you can listen to here .

This phone call was received several days after Lucy Allan published the altered email from her constituent on her facebook page.

I do not know the outcome of the police investigation into this phone call but it would be interesting to know if the caller was ever traced. What I find quite strange is that Lucy Allan rushed to release this tape to the media but she has still not published the email which she alleges contains the words ‘Unless you die’ (or indeed explained why she cannot publish it) in spite of a widespread call for her to do so. Little wonder that many people have concluded that she simply made up those words in an attempt to gain public sympathy.  

3. What became of the police investigation into the online harassment of Lucy Allan? 

As far as I am aware, in spite of Lucy Allan's allegations of harassment, nobody was arrested or charged with any offence. In my view, Lucy Allan's reports to the police were just a smokescreen to deflect attention away from her altering of her constituent's email and the outrage she had caused by adding the words 'Unless you die' to the email.

Genuine online harassment of MPs is unacceptable as is online harassment of anyone. What Lucy Allan did, in adding the words 'Unless you die' to give the appearance that someone wished her dead, and then not showing the second email, was a huge disservice to all the genuine victims of online harassment.  


4. Isn't it time to forget about Lucy Allan because there are more important things to worry about?

There are certainly more important things going on in the world than Lucy Allan, such as Brexit, Syria and in my own town the planned closure of Telford's A&E and Women's and Children's unit. 

However, I personally believe that if we are to have a healthy democracy in this country we need our MPs to be open and accountable to the electorate (they are supposed to be open and accountable under the House of Commons Code of Conduct paragraph 8). 

If MPs are not open and accountable, then the already significant mistrust in politicians will just grow and people will become increasingly disaffected. After all, didn't Donald Trump, who has never held a political post in his life, get elected as President of USA partly because people were so fed up with politicians?

Let us not forget what Lucy Allan did. She received an email from a constituent which asked her to vote against the bombing of Syria, and 4 days later she chose to publish that email on her facebook page, but only after she made wholesale changes to that email and to make it appear that her constituent wished her dead. She still denies doctoring the email in spite of all these changes being made which you can see here.   

5. Why didn't the media succeed in getting an answer from Lucy Allan? 

Some people have claimed that there was a media bias in favour of the Conservatives that meant that journalists backed off from challenging  Lucy Allan to publish the second email. There might be some truth in that, but I think that after many journalists tried to get an answer from her, it was more to do with the story no longer being seen as newsworthy, especially after the 2015 Christmas break which came at the right time for the beleaguered Telford MP. 

Remember that promise that Lucy Allan gave to Channel 4 about returning to give her account of the story? Here it is Sadly that follow-up interview never materialised. So perhaps Lucy Allan really didn't want to give her side of the story after all.

The BBC Sunday Politics West Midlands programme and in particular journalist Joanne Gallacher emerged with great credit because they stood up to Lucy Allan by not allowing her to veto questions about the 'Unless you die' email. Because of this Lucy Allan chose not to appear on the programme. 

6. So, did anyone ever interview her about the email?

Because we felt that the media had not got to to the truth of the Lucy Allan 'Unless you die' email, earlier this year a group of us produced a short video which included interviews with the constituent who sent the email, and other Telford constituents including myself. The video also includes Lucy Allan being questioned at the Queen's birthday celebrations about her constituent's email and her astonishing denial of ''I didn't alter any email Sir''. The video can be seen here.  

7. Why didn't the complaints to the Parliamentary Watchdog get upheld? 

In an interview published in the Shropshire Star on 18th January 2016 Lucy Allan stated:

 ''Some of the allegations were very serious and if they were accurate then there certainly would have been something the Parliamentary Standards Committee would want to look at.''

I think Lucy Allan's statement was misleading because the complaints made to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards about her conduct were simply outside the Commissioner's remit. Currently the Commissioner can investigate allegations that an MP has breached the rules of conduct set out in paragraph 10-16 of the Code of Conduct whereas I believe Lucy Allan breached paragraph 8 of the Code of Conduct by not being open and accountable in explaining the 'Unless you die' email. 

8. Why didn't the Conservative Party take any action against Lucy Allan?

I think many people hit on the real reason very quickly. Lucy Allan has only a slim majority of 730 and the Conservative Government itself only has a small majority and so the Conservatives cannot afford to lose the Telford seat. When I wrote to complain to the then leader of the Conservative Party, David Cameron, I received a predictable response from 10 Downing Street which effectively ignored my complaint.

Locally, whereas I have not seen members of the Telford Conservative Association condemn Lucy Allan for what she did, they have certainly not defended her actions either.  I believe that it is still more likely than not that Lucy Allan will be deselected before the next General election because the local Conservatives are aware of how deeply unpopular she is. 

9. Can't we just forgive Lucy Allan, as she is only human and we all make mistakes?

 Personally, I could have forgiven Lucy Allan if, at the time this happened last year, she had admitted that she had made up the words 'Unless you die' and apologised to her constituent. After all, we all make mistakes (although adding 'Unless you die' to a constituent's email to make it appear that the constituent wishes you dead is in a category of its own).  

However, rather than holding her hands up, Lucy Allan continued to deny making up those words and she ignored or blocked most people who dared to challenge her on it. In my own case, she even went as far as fabricating a lie that my behaviour amounted to stalking her, whereas all I had done was email her, asking her why she would not publish the second email. 

So no, I will not be forgiving Lucy Allan as Telford deserves an MP who does not make false accusations and outrageous claims that are not supported by evidence. 

10. Has long-term damage been done to Lucy Allan's re-election chances?

Even if Lucy Allan is not deselected before the next general election, I believe she will be trounced next time round because Telford voters will not forget what she did (in addition to her being a rather useless MP in my opinion). 

Her lack of popularity can be seen in how few people now like her tweets and posts on facebook (although this is also due to the number of people she has blocked!)

 Lucy Allan already has a slim majority of 730 and she also faces the prospect of losing more votes with planned boundary changes and so I think she needs to start thinking about booking a one-way ticket back to Putney.

  Neil Phillips

 Telford resident