A corporate lobbyist running Facebook ads attacking Labour’s housing policy has been accused of misrepresenting two of the UK’s biggest estate agents.
Jennifer Rebecca Powers has spent £17,094 on ads during the election campaign from the Facebook page Right to Rent, Right to Buy, Right to Own.
The ads, which have been seen between 1.6 and 1.9 million times, attack Labour’s housing policy, saying “landlords will lose their livelihood overnight” and questioning whether a Labour government would “seize your property”.
To support her claims, Ms Powers added quotes to her website from two of Britain’s largest estate agents, Savills and Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL).
When contacted by Sky News, both companies said their views had been misrepresented.
A spokesperson for Savills said the statement used by Ms Powers, which quoted head of UK residential research Lucian Cook saying a Corbyn government would “lead to sharp increases in interest rates”, was false.
“I can state categorically that the words… are not his,” the spokesperson told Sky News.
“They have been lifted from an email newsletter from the Telegraph Property team… and are attributable only to that editorial team.
“These words neither emanate from, nor reflect the views of Lucian Cook, nor Savills.”
A spokesperson for JLL said the quote attributed to its analyst, which claimed a Labour government could have a more significant impact on house prices than Brexit, was correct, but did not reflect the company’s view.
“This quote has been misconstrued and taken out of context and used without our permission,” the spokesperson said.
“[It was] intended to reflect the impact of policy uncertainty and change, recognising that Labour proposes quite a lot of change.”
Both companies said they had asked for their quotes to be removed. So far Ms Powers has only removed the statement from Savills.
The ability of so-called non-party campaigners to run attack ads on Facebook has come under scrutiny in this election.
Numerous obscure groups have run ads on Facebook, according to data from the tech firm, which reveals the name of the organisation “sponsoring” the ad, but not who paid for it.
Other campaigners running ads include Richard Patrick Tracey, a former Conservative minister for sport, who uses the page Parents’ Choice, and Bromley Conservative councillor Suraj Sharma, who has spent £24,061 on ads attacking Labour using the name Working4UK.
Ms Powers, who previously worked for influential corporate lobbyists Public First and Competere, told Sky News that her campaign was “run in full accordance with the rules set out by the Electoral Commission” and that she funded it herself with the addition of crowdfunding.
She said the quote from Savills was misattributed because “it wasn’t clear to me” that it came from a Telegraph journalist.
Targeting information given by Facebook to users, and seen by Sky News, shows ads from Right to Rent, Right to Buy, Right to Own are being aimed at people interested in “Family”.
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