Leaders debate: National 'associated' with fact-checking account

A 'fact checking' account "associated" with National, which the party couldn't say whether it would be impartial, has ended up only critiquing Labour's comments.

The account has sprung up in time for the first leaders debate, hosted on TVNZ on Thursday night, which saw Labour's Jacinda Ardern battling National's Bill English.

When contacted by Newshub earlier in the night, National wouldn't confirm whether or not the account would remain independent and impartial.

With the speed of the debate, it's understandable viewers would be concerned about whether their information is valid, prompting fact checkers.

One such account, Check The Facts (@nzfactcheck), has encouraged people to check in for live coverage and fact checking.

It appears grey, impartial, and originally, unlinked to any party - except for one small detail. Its description acknowledges it's "authorised by G Hamilton, 41 Pipitea St, WLG" - a National address.

When contacted by Newshub, National's Clark Hennessy wouldn't elaborate on just how much the party is linked to the account.

"Yes it is associated with us," he said when contacted by Newshub.

But Mr Hennessy didn't respond to questions about who was the National affiliate behind the account, why there is no acknowledgement about it being associated with National aside from the address, and notably, whether the audience should be concerned about impartiality.

"I've got no comment to add on that," he said.

The account's description has since been updated to read: "This account run by @NZNationalParty."

And when it came to the debate, it's up to viewers to decide if it was an impartial fact checker.

Its only tweets criticised Ms Ardern's comments and in one, even says "we" when referring to the Government.

But while the account may have seemed like it was supposed to be independent, especially before the added comments about it being run by the National Party, it didn't break any rules.

The Electoral Commission confirmed simply having the "authorised by" statement was enough to clear the account in the eyes of the Electoral Act.

It comes as a new Colmar Brunton poll places Labour ahead of the National Party, on 43 percent compared to National on 41 percent.

Newshub.

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