Grey Power elec­tion sparks ‘dirty tricks’ email cam­paign

Taranaki Daily News - - News - EMILY HEY­WARD

A smear cam­paign to bring down a can­di­date run­ning for Grey Power’s na­tional pres­i­dent has rocked the over-50s ad­vo­cacy group.

Out­go­ing pres­i­dent Tom O’Con­nor said ‘‘po­ten­tially defam­a­tory’’ emails had been sent to mem­bers from three fake email ac­counts in the past few weeks, two of which claimed to be from him.

O’Con­nor said the ‘‘un­der­handed’’ emails try­ing to ‘‘im­prop­erly in­flu­ence the elec­tion’’ were sent by for­mer board mem­bers and life mem­bers.

O’Con­nor ad­dressed the ‘‘dirty tricks’’ in an email to re­gional as­so­ci­a­tions late last month.

‘‘It seems we have more dirty tricks and un­der­handed stunts [than] Don­ald Trump’s re-elec­tion cam­paign man­agers and the Aus­tralian cricket team com­bined,’’ he said in the email.

‘‘In the past few weeks we have had three bo­gus email ad­dresses set up. One to im­prop­erly in­flu­ence the elec­tion of the pres­i­dent with de­lib­er­ate lies and a false iden­tity and two email ad­dresses falsely claim­ing to be me.’’

The coun­try’s lead­ing Grey Power mem­bers are in Blen­heim this week to vote for a new na­tional pres­i­dent, and to dis­cuss is­sues af­fect­ing the el­derly, at their an­nual meet­ing.

O’Con­nor, a for­mer Marl­bor­ough Ex­press jour­nal­ist liv­ing in Ti­maru, said ini­tial in­quiries sug­gested the fake email ad­dresses had come from the greater Welling­ton re­gion. He told mem­bers the only emails they would re­ceive from him would be from the Grey Power New Zealand Fed­er­a­tion of­fice.

O’Con­nor said two emails made ‘‘un­true’’ com­ments about a can­di­date, un­der the pseu­do­nym ‘Leon Ash’. ‘‘They sent out an email that was very, very crit­i­cal of one of the can­di­dates and some of the com­ments were un­true and some were po­ten­tially defam­a­tory but they did it un­der an as­sumed name.’’

O’Con­nor said the emails were ‘‘in­ex­cus­able’’ and those in­volved had been given a ‘‘stern’’ talk­ing to.

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