Portsmouth’s smeargate: dirty politics in the age of austerity

Sarah Cheverton, Tom Sykes

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle


Last month our hyperlocal news website Star & Crescent was the first media outlet to report on a leaked email sent by Conservative councillor Scott Harris in which he expressed that ‘it might be a good idea to play dirty’ in the 2016 local elections. In the email—sent to all Portsmouth’s Conservative councillors—Harris revealed that he was ‘compiling some stuff’ on Jon Woods, a social worker for Portsmouth City Council and a trade union activist; on Sameen Farouk, a local resident and campaigner; and on Shonagh Dillon, CEO of a local charity, Aurora New Dawn. All three individuals have been active critics of Portsmouth City Council’s cuts programme. One of the tactics proposed in the email was a vindictive complaint to Farouk’s employer, with the intention of getting him dismissed from his job. After the story broke, Harris faced calls to resign and apologised for his conduct (if only to Farouk). Despite this, local Conservative councillors have continued to make negative statements about Farouk and Aurora New Dawn.
Original languageEnglish
Specialist publicationRed Pepper
Publication statusPublished - 4 Dec 2016


  • local government
  • Portsmouth City Council
  • media
  • citizen journalism
  • hyperlocal news
  • political corporate social responsibility


Dive into the research topics of 'Portsmouth’s smeargate: dirty politics in the age of austerity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this