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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 February 2006, 12:43 GMT
Site axes MP over 'fake' e-mails
Ian Liddell-Grainger
Mr Liddell-Grainger said the website's findings were 'bunk'
An MP sent e-mails - and replies - to himself to improve his "responsiveness rating" on a website which helps people contact their elected representatives.

Conservative Iain Liddell-Grainger was disqualified from the writetothem.com league table after sending five messages from a hotmail account.

Site director Tom Steinberg said this had made his data "unreliable".

But the MP said the messages had been sent to show the findings were "bunk" and "statistically inaccurate".

System filter

The table, which covers the calendar year 2005, gives an MP's "responsiveness rating", based on the percentage of e-mails and faxes sent through the site that they answered.

Twenty-nine had a 100% rating. MPs had to receive a minimum of 10 messages during the year to be included on the table.

Mr Steinberg said the e-mails from Mr Liddell-Grainger had triggered a filter in the system.

He added: "There were various things that were unusual about the messages.

"They all used the same email address, but they all had different postal addresses."

We emailed ourselves and on one email our rating went up by 10%, at which point we deduced it was only a very small website
Mr Liddell-Grainger's spokesman

Writetothem.com, which is non-profitmaking and largely staffed by volunteers, allows people to type in a postcode and then write and e-mail a message to their local MP, Euro MP or local councillor.

It recorded 29,976 messages sent to MPs last year.

Mr Liddell-Grainger's spokesman said the low number of e-mails received via the site, compared with those constituents sent straight to the MP, made the findings meaningless.

He added: "Ian gets something like 280 e-mails a day."

Overall, Mr Liddell-Grainger, MP for Bridgwater in Somerset since 2001, received 43 messages via writetothem.com in 2005.

A previous table on the website - for 2002-04 - had given him a low response rating.

The spokesman said: "When the website first came out, he was horrified to see what a ridiculously low rating he had got.

"We e-mailed ourselves and on one e-mail our rating went up by 10%, at which point we deduced it was only a very small website."

The e-mails had been an "experiment" to prove this, he added.

Political opponents had used the previous rating to embarrass Mr Liddell-Grainger, the spokesman said.

He added: "The website implied that he had a serious problem. It's bunk. It's terribly easy to contact your MP, so there's no need to do it via this site."

Overall, the writetothem website found that Conservatives recorded a 74% responsiveness rating, compared with 60% for Liberal Democrats and 58% for Labour.

Treasury apologises over e-mail
24 Jan 06 |  UK Politics

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