POLITICS
27/04/2015 10:10 BST | Updated 27/04/2015 11:59 BST

Daily Telegraph Letter From Small Businesses Mocked For The Wrong Reasons

People on the internet have got something wrong.

They found out that the letter published in The Daily Telegraph today from small businesses about the threat Labour poses to the economy originated from the Conservative Campaign HQ (CCHQ).

If you download the PDF from the Telegraph's website, you can see the author is 'CCHQ admin'.

The gaffe might show why the Tories should double check the metadata of PDFs they pass to the press for publication.

Despite the fact that newspapers from all sides routinely take and repackage material from all the parties, it was interpreted as a sign the story was a fake, implying the views of the 5,000 signatories lacked credibility, because their names had been compiled by the Tories.

"Partisan reporting is one thing, but this is ridiculous," wrote one blogger of the Telegraph's failure to take the CCHQ credit off the PDF.

A Conservative spokesperson told The i100 the origin of the letter was "not a secret".

SEE ALSO:

This is backed up by the fact you can sign the letter on the party's website.

The Tories have also been emailing people encouraging them to sign, with small business ambassador Karren Brady calling on people to sign and distribute it, just like The Guardian reported she was doing earlier this month.

Others, meanwhile, were stunned the letter was deemed newsworthy enough for a front page splash after the earthquake in Nepal.

The letter came in for criticism on Monday, particularly after people noticed some of the 5,000 signatories had signed twice.

One of the businesses which apparently put its name to the letter has claimed it never signed.

Aurum Solutions has been removed from the letter after saying its sales director did not sign it and that the company's policy is to remain politically unaligned.

Managing director Helen Belcher said the company's sales director Steve O'Hehir was sent an email by the Tories, then clicked on a link within it, but did not enter any details.

On Monday's Daily Politics Show, Andrew Neill told Conservative Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury David Gauke the letter was "Tory propaganda" and "a stunt".

Neil said: "This is a Conservative Central Office produced letter. It's got CCHQ admin on it. It's your work. It's not like 5,000 businessman have spontaneously decided to back the Tory party, you've rounded them up."

"CCHQ in passing it over to the Telegraph, you forgot to take out the metadata tag which showed it was produced by CCHQ. It is a pice of tory propaganda.

Gauke replied it was "no secret" that the Tories has sought out people to sign it via their website.

Neil listed a series of the signatories who were not directors or shareholders in the companies they claimed to represent and one of the "small businesses" was a "Conservative club".

Gauke said: "The reality is that very large numbers of small business people are supporting the Conservative Party."