Labour MP Ian Lavery sparks confusion after 'hacked tweet' claims

Written by John Johnston on 19 June 2019 in Diary

Ian Lavery has claimed he was "hacked" after a tweet closely mirroring his own Brexit position was sent to a journalist from his account.

The Labour Party chair has come under scrutiny after he alleged that a mysterious hacker accessed his account, tweeted about the leadership's Brexit policy and then logged off.

Responding to a tweet from Sky's Sam Coates about Labour's shift towards Remain, Mr Lavery - who is strongly against a second Brexit referendum - tweeted: "I fear it's correct. But please understand there position really is to head for to revoking A50."

But minutes later the tweet was deleted and Mr Lavery sent out a statement alleging the message had come from a malicious actor.

He said: "Earlier this morning a tweet was sent from this account in reply to @SamCoatesSky, this was not authorised by myself or anyone on my team. Appropriate security updates have been made and I can assure any Journalists etc, that it was not a tweet I authorised re Brexit position."

Mr Lavery's team also moved to dismiss the tweet, adding: "Ian's a stickler for spelling and wouldn't have got there/their wrong."

Almost instantly several Tweets from Mr Lavery's account with the same grammatical error were flagged by Twitter users.

But two hours later the Labour heavyweight posted a screenshot of an email which he had received from Twitter warning him of a new login to his account from Walthamstow.

"Confirmed by Twitter", he added. "Someone else logged in to my account, not me or any of my staff."

But the response was quickly jumped on by journalists who highlighted the email from Twitter - normally sent instantly after a new login is detected - was timestamped almost two hours after the offending tweet was sent and seven minutes after he had tweeted about his upgraded security measures.

Further doubt about the claims were raised after it was highlighted that Mr Lavery's original tweet had been sent via the Twitter app, while the suspicious login warning related to a new login from a Chrome browser. A skim of the Deleted by MPs website show a significant majority of his previous tweets were sent via the app.

Mr Lavery's office have yet to respond to these latest questions about the incident, or whether they will making a complaint to the police.

But detectives might want to test the hypothisis that a serial cyber crim is at work.

In 2017, Tory MP Conor Burns also claimed to have fallen victim to a very specific hack attack when his account was used to send several tweets to the EU's chief Brexit negotiator demanding information about the UK's divorce deal payments.

Mr Burns, who was a parliamentary aide to then-Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, said he had been "on visits" when the tweets were sent and had changed his password after both his email and twitter account was "hacked".

The hunt for the incredibly specific Brexit blunder hacker continues...

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