New Forest East




Lymington Times – 26 July 2008

The New Forest MP who spearheaded the campaign to keep parliamentarians' addresses secret accused a local political rival of leaking where he lives to a national newspaper. The bitter spat erupted between New Forest East MP Julian Lewis and the man who is set to be his chief challenger for the seat at the next General Election, Liberal Democrat Terry Scriven.

MPs recently voted to exempt their addresses from Freedom of Information requests and Dr Lewis has led the fight in the House of Commons to keep confidential the exact location of his properties in London and Southampton for security reasons. But this week he forced Mr Scriven, a retired military policeman to deny passing his address to the Sunday Telegraph's Ben Leapman – the journalist who fought to reveal MPs' homes to hold them to account over their expenses claims.

The row flared when Mr Scriven exchanged emails with the District Council's Chief Executive, David Yates, querying a discrepancy with Dr Lewis's practice of registering on the electoral roll with a false name next to his address, which he is allowed to do on security grounds. Shortly after, Mr Leapman called the Council, referring to an email he had been given about Dr Lewis's registration, written by Mr Yates. When the MP was told of both inquiries, he feared his address had been revealed – and blamed Mr Scriven for leaking it.

However, both Mr Scriven and Mr Leapman denied being involved in the plot claimed by Dr Lewis. Mr Leapman told the [Lymington Times]:

"I was never given Julian Lewis's address. It would not have been published, even if I had. I do not have his address, but it was never about finding out where he lives anyway; it's about holding MPs accountable for what they spend."

Yet, Dr Lewis even raised the issue in Parliament and branded Mr Scriven as:

"the sort of person who smears one in the papers, but rushes to shake one's hand when one meets him. He insinuates wrongdoing, without having the guts openly to accuse one".

After a four-day, increasingly bad-tempered exchange of messages between Dr Lewis's office and Mr Scriven, the Lib Dem finally wrote to him on Monday denying sending Mr Leapman any messages which included Dr Lewis's address. Dr Lewis reacted by accusing him of "dirty tricks" and told the [Lymington Times] that Mr Scriven had not offered a "rational explanation" for how the email about the false name he uses for his electoral registration had found its way to the Sunday Telegraph:

"He claims to be an expert in security but he puts my home address, about which he knows there to be security issues, in an insecure email,"

he said.

"It was a sly, underhanded and devious attempt to make a bad headline for me, regardless of my security."

Mr Scriven, from Fordingbridge, hit back on Wednesday. Although he refused to tell the [Lymington Times] whether or not he had been in contact with Mr Leapman about Dr Lewis, he repeated his denial that he had sent the journalist any of the MP's addresses. He said Dr Lewis had gone too far in denouncing him in the House of Commons – where the rules protect MPs from being sued – and he told the [Lymington Times]:

"This is very distressing to my family to have received all these emails, calls and being abused in Parliament. All my life I have had to deal with bullies and what this action by Julian Lewis has done is to make me more determined to beat him in the General Election. I thought politics was about helping the community – but, sadly, in Julian Lewis's case, this is a disappointment."

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[NOTE: Mr Scriven has refused to answer Julian's question: "What are the inaccuracies which you allege to be contained in my speech of 22 July 2008?" No emails were sent to Scriven's family, and the only reason more than one had to be sent to him – together with a single note and a single message on his answer-machine – was his blatant refusal to answer the simple questions (1) whether it was he who had shown the email correspondence with Mr Yates to Ben Leapman and (2) if so, whether he had at least had the decency to delete the address. Scriven purports to support Julian's stance on keeping MPs' home addresses secret, yet it is obvious from his persistent refusals to answer that he did indeed get in touch with Leapman – the one journalist whom he knew to be hostile to Julian for thwarting his own reckless campaign to force MPs' home addresses to be published. This is hypocrisy of the highest order, with the heroic Redcap, having put someone else's security at risk, complaining of being "bullied" by the person he has wronged. Needless to say, Scriven's family were not "abused" nor indeed mentioned at all in Parliament.]

[For Scriven's disgraceful attempt to have Julian investigated by the Police, click here.]