Labour's leaked NHS documents 'linked to Russian disinformation campaign'

7 December 2019, 13:47

Jeremy Corbyn holds what he claims is a document proving the Tories want to sell off the NHS
Jeremy Corbyn holds what he claims is a document proving the Tories want to sell off the NHS. Picture: PA

Leaked documents which Jeremy Corbyn claimed prove the Conservative Party plan to sell off the NHS have been linked to a Russian disinformation campaign on Reddit, the social media platform has said.

Reddit said it had banned 61 accounts following an investigation of suspect activity.

The campaign shared the same pattern of activity as a Russian operation dubbed "Secondary Infektion" uncovered by Facebook earlier this year.

The Labour leader revealed the leaked 451 page document during a press conference on Wednesday.

He said they provided evidence the Government was at an advanced stage of negotiations with the US to open up the health service to American pharmaceutical companies.

Reddit said it believed the documents were leaked as "part of a campaign that has been reported as originating from Russia".

In a statement, Reddit said its investigation had found a "pattern of coordination" between the now-banned accounts on its site and a Russian campaign uncovered by Facebook earlier this year.

The Labour party has refused to discuss the source of the documents
The Labour party has refused to discuss the source of the documents. Picture: PA

Information from the investigation into the "Secondary Infektion" campaign on Facebook was used to identify suspect accounts on Reddit.

Reddit said: "This group provides us with important attribution for the recent posting of the leaked UK documents, as well as insights into how adversaries are adapting their tactics.

"As a result of this investigation, we are banning... 61 accounts under our policies against vote manipulation and misuse of the platform. "

Speaking at a news conference last month, Mr Corbyn said the pages left Boris Johnson's claim the the NHS wouldn't be part of trade talks "in absolute tatters".

There is currently no suggestions the documents were false or doctored in any way.

Boris Johnson has said the NHS will not be up for sale if he is kept in power
Boris Johnson has said the NHS will not be up for sale if he is kept in power. Picture: PA

Reddit said the leaked files had first been posted in October and then reposted by a second account.

Pockets of accounts had worked together to "upvote" the posts using vote manipulation to make them more visible to users of the platform, it added.

These accounts had posted in different regional subreddits and in several different languages.

"As we have done with previous influence operations, we will also preserve these accounts for a time, so that researchers and the public can scrutinize them to see for themselves how these accounts operated," Reddit said.

Labour have refused to discuss the source for the documents.

A Labour spokesman said: "These documents reveal the plot against our NHS. And of course neither the UK nor the US government have denied their authenticity. Our releasing them to journalists was clearly in the public interest."

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