Tory deputy chairman Lee Anderson clashes with BBC local radio host

Moment new Tory deputy chairman ’30p Lee’ Anderson clashes with BBC local radio presenter over infamous Mail ‘hot mic’ video in which he was caught asking friend to pose as a regular voter while campaigning

  • Lee Anderson clashed with a BBC radio host when asked about infamous video
  • In response, the MP asked the broadcaster ten times if she’d ever told a lie 

The new deputy chairman of the Conservative Party has been caught up in a fresh row over an infamous Mail+ video in which he was rumbled staging a doorstep encounter while campaigning.

Lee Anderson clashed with a BBC local radio presenter when he was asked about setting up the doorknock with a friend posing as a regular voter during the 2019 general election campaign.

In response, the MP for Ashfield in Nottinghamshire asked broadcaster Verity Cowley ten times if she had ever told a lie.

Miss Cowley, who presents the drive-time show on BBC Radio Nottingham, spoke to Mr Anderson during a pre-recorded interview on Wednesday morning.

After speaking about his appointment earlier this week as deputy chair – a role which traditionally takes a lead in spreading election messages during campaigns – the interview turned to the incident when Mr Anderson was filmed by then-Mail+ journalist Michael Crick canvassing before the 2019 General Election.

Mr Anderson made headlines last year after claiming there was no ‘massive use’ for food banks in Britain

Mr Anderson was recorded taking a phone call, before walking back towards Crick and telling him the call related to a delivery of campaign leaflets.

But a microphone picked up the candidate telling a voter: ‘Make out you know who I am, make out you know I’m the candidate but not a friend all right?…I’ll see you in a minute.’

Referring to the video in yesterday’s broadcast, Miss Cowley told Mr Anderson: ‘There is a worry by some that you might be a bit dishonest.

‘I’m talking about that video that you did where you asked a friend to pose as an anti-Labour swing voter.’

Mr Anderson, a former miner and Labour councillor who left the party in 2018 over its stance on Brexit, then repeatedly asked the host if she has ever told a lie.

‘I’ve never asked somebody to pretend to be something they’re not just to further my campaign,’ she replied.

Miss Cowley then said humans tell false truths to protect people.

‘So you’re a liar, so you’re dishonest,’ Mr Anderson replied.

‘We’ve established you’re dishonest and you tell lies.’

The BBC then broadcast the full interview after the MP raised concerns over the editing process.

Mr Anderson made headlines last year after claiming there was no ‘massive use’ for food banks in Britain. His argument that if people learned how to cook and budget properly they could make meals for 30p a day subsequently saw him dubbed ’30p Lee’ by detractors.

In the interview with Miss Cowley broadcast on Wednesday afternoon, the MP said he would challenge the assumption anyone earning £30,000 to £35,000 needed to use a food bank.

Miss Cowley said: ‘Even though nurses, firefighters, people who’ve got jobs are saying ‘I need to use this’ you don’t believe them?’

‘No,’ Mr Anderson said.

The MP challenged her to find a ‘firefighter or a nurse’ in Ashfield that relied on a food bank, and suggested that if she did, they could work together on her show with that person to explore the reasons why.

Mr Anderson was appointed deputy to ex-trade minister Greg Hands, who replaced Nadhim Zahawi as Tory chairman.

Mr Anderson’s combative performance on the radio comes as The Spectator published an interview, conducted before he was appointed deputy chairman, in which he expresses support for reintroducing the death penalty in the most serious of cases.

Mr Anderson told the magazine: ‘Nobody has ever committed a crime after being executed’.

Parliament suspended the death penalty in 1965, before later abolishing it completely across the UK.

At the end of his day following Mr Anderson on the campaign trail, Crick told Mail+ viewers he had ‘long suspected’ certain candidates had ‘set up friendly voters to make them look that much more popular’. But the former BBC and Channel 4 News journalist added that his recording of Mr Anderson was ‘the first time we’ve caught some candidate blatantly in the act’.

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