The Conservative Party has defended one of its MPs for “hacking” Labour MP Harriet Harman’s website when she was 28 years old as “youthful exuberance”.
Rising Tory star Kemi Badenoch, 38, admitted she had tried to alter the content to make it more favourable to her party when asked what was the “naughtiest” thing she had ever done.
The party insisted guessing a password did not constitute “real hacking”, despite hacking into websites being a criminal offence which can carry a prison sentence of up to two years.
On Twitter, Harman said she had received a written apology from the Tory MP and accepted it.
In an interview with online channel Core Politics, which was since been published by the Mail on Sunday, Badenoch said she “hacked into a Labour MP’s website” a decade ago when she was 28 years old.
She added: “I changed all the stuff in there to say nice things about the Tories.”
Tory sources stressed Badenoch was not a candidate or professionally connected to the party at the time.
Badenoch was elected as an MP an for Saffron Walden just last year
On Sunday night, Badenoch told the Mail on Sunday: “This was a foolish prank over a decade ago, for which I apologise.”
A Tory Party source told the paper it was a case of “youthful exuberance” which occurred before Badenoch was a candidate and did not constitute a serious offence.
But Labour MPs mocked the Tory suggestion that actions of a 28-year-old could be dismissed as “youthful exuberance”.
Tom van de Bilt, secretary of Saffron Walden Labour Party, said: “What Ms Badenoch has described doing is a shocking breach of the Computer Misuse Act: a criminal offence punishable by custodial sentence.
“Saffron Walden Labour Party call on Kemi to give a full account of who her victim was, when this happened and whether the incident was previously reported to the police.
“The Cambridge Analytica revelations show how vital it is that political campaigns stay within the law.
“Tory attempts to make light of this as not ‘proper hacking’ because it relied on guessing a password miss the point.
“The seriousness of the offence comes from the effect on the victim and on the reputation of our democracy, not the skill level of the offender.”