Sussex

Wayne Bayley: Fake Brexit party Twitter account 'sows discord'

Nigel Farage Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The fake tweets were reported as examples of internal opposition to Nigel Farage

A former Brexit party candidate said a fake Twitter account in his name may have been intended to "sow discord".

A profile claiming to be Wayne Bayley, who was due to stand in Crawley, posted critical views of Nigel Farage.

Twitter has now suspended the account, but the fake tweets had already appeared in several news reports.

The real Mr Bayley believes an impostor set up the profile to "do harm" to his party or "sow discord in the forthcoming election".

The retired pilot, of Horsham, West Sussex, said he was disappointed Twitter had not acted faster to remove the account.

Image copyright Wayne Bayley
Image caption Wayne Bayley posted a "proof of life" photo on Twitter to show he was the real deal

The fake account used an uppercase "I" in place of the lowercase "l" in Mr Bayley's surname. While obvious on desktop computers, the alteration can not easily be seen on some mobile versions of the Twitter app.

He said it had the "perverse" outcome of giving him the opportunity to promote the Brexit party.

News websites had cited a tweet from the fake account, stating that Mr Bayley believed he was owed £10,000 by Mr Farage for the cost of election leaflets and staff that were now redundant after the party decided not to stand candidates in seats with Conservative incumbents.

However, the real Mr Bayley said he believed the decision was a "masterstroke".

He does not believe "somebody would have gone to these lengths for a personal attack," but fears the spread of "misinformation" would mean "in everybody's' mind there is a doubt as to whether or not what they are being told is authentic".

He said the fake account, which appeared to be set up in August, was "sophisticated" and "planned".

"It's not some haphazard bloke in his attic, so you have to ask yourself who stands to benefit and why," he said.

He does not believe it was orchestrated by a Brexit party supporter.

"I just can't see anybody being this contorted, trying to get from A to B, but going via Z and X.

"It's possible, but it's an obscure way of doing it".

Twitter did not comment on Mr Bayley's concerns following a request from the BBC.

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