LIKE most MPs, Angela Eagle is keen to inform her constituents about her good work and uses a frequently updated website to get her message across.
Yesterday, though, the Labour member for Wallasey was surprised when the Daily Post pointed out the page also included a link to buy cheap cigarettes, go online gambling and purchase the sex drug Viagra.
Once notified, Ms Eagle said the link to the site was a “genuine error” and her web team had been spoofed by a fake web address.
The web link tells surfers that it will take them to the UK Youth Parliament site. But it takes them to a “spoof” address which led to other sites offering cigarettes, gambling and Viagra.
Yesterday Ms Eagle, who has held a number of junior ministerial posts and was a member of the Select Committee which investigated accusations of sleaze against MPs, said that as soon as her office was informed the link was changed.
Ms Eagle added: ” I was concerned to learn that a link from my website which purports to go to the UK Youth Parliament actually takes readers to a site that appears, amongst other things, to be selling cheap cigarettes.
“The two sites have very similar web addresses and the cigarette site has clearly been set up as a spoof to fool people.”
The web link should have sent people to a site called www.ukyouthparliament.org.uk which is aimed at 11-18 year olds and is an independent national charity supported by more than 300 MPs from across the political spectrum. It aims to give the young people an opportunity to be involved in the democratic process at a national level.
But the site which surfers found themselves at was named www.ukyouthparliament.com, and has links to a range of websites offering cut price cigarettes, as well as airline tickets, holidays and links to advice on debt, dating services and music.
Ms Eagle added: “Whilst I write almost all the material for my website myself, I rely on the technical help of a couple of Party volunteers to design and lay out the material, deal with the technical side of uploading data to the site and putting the correct technical materials in place to support links to other sites.
“The work that these volunteers do is excellent and normally to a very high standard. They have assured me that it was a very unfortunate error that led to the wrong website address being used in the link to the UK Youth Parliament. As I have noted, the two addresses are very similar indeed.
“Immediately that I learned of this error, I contacted the volunteers and asked them to change the web address to the correct web address for the Youth Parliament.”