Just as David Cameron could do without any further distractions Lynton Crosby, his top strategist for the 2015 general election, is about to become embroiled in a lengthy and costly libel action 10,500 miles away from Downing Street.
Mr Crosby the aggressive campaign adviser who helped Boris Johnson win the last London mayoral election and well-known for his ” dog whistle” techniques to woo voters is about to cause a furore in Australia in a trial that a judge says is already ” heading down the path of a famous defamation.”
He is the latest top figure after Lord McAlpine, the former Tory treasurer, decided to sue people for Twitter defamation ( in his case wrongly accused of being a paedophile), to take his chances in the courts. The interesting thing is this case is that it centres around his very election techniques that helped right wingers win power in Australia and could become controversial over here. He is also a tweeter himself (
@LyntonKCrosby)- at least while he was helping Boris Johnson’s campaign. Indeed his tweets were quite sharp about the BBC, and the Left during the campaign and he also got into trouble (not on Twitter) over describing the Muslim voter in uncharitable terms – something which he denies.
The full story of the impending libel action is revealed in some detail on the Inforrm blog (http://inforrm.wordpress.com/2013/05/07/news-conservative-strategist-lynton-crosby-and-an-australian-twitter-libel-action/) .
The man being sued by Crosby is an Australian defence minister, Mike Kelly (
in the Labor government who tweeted that Mr Crosby had used unethical polling techniques to help win the election for the Liberals. The damaging tweet said: ““always grate [sic] to hear moralizing from Crosby, Textor, Steal and Gnash. The mob who introduced push polling to Aus.”
Crosby took exception to this as push polling is illegal in Australia as it attempts to change people’s opinions by pretending to conduct a neutral poll. As Inforrm reports ” Crosby and his company claimed his opponents said he ” had introduced a polling technique that had the deceitful purpose of deliberately influencing voters with material slanted against the opposing candidate. They seek aggravated damages because they say Dr Kelly failed to apologise, used sensational language and published the tweet knowing it was false, or with reckless indifference to its truth or falsity.”
But Mr Kelly is not backing down despite losing an attempt to have the libel thrown out and being ordered to pay $100,000 costs. He has got the financial backing of the New South Wales Labor Party and both sides will be back in court on June 7.
So Mr Crosby is about to be a bit distracted just when he should be advising Cameron on how to handle the rise of Ukip. But there is also interesting side to this story. Will Crosby launch similar type actions against prominent Labour tweeters here – if they dare attack him during the 2015 election campaign. Will Tom Watson, Labour’s campaign manager,a prolific tweeter and man prepared to take on the wrath of Murdoch, find himself in the centre of a fresh row.
Whatever happens there no seems a much bigger chance of what former party Tory deputy chairman
@LordAshcroft tweeted only a week ago ( “Lynton Crosby becoming the story. Dirty linen/public. Whatever the merits not good for the Tories.” This was not about this story but the blogosphere could be about to get a lot more controversial, nastier and dangerous during the 2015 election.