The MP for East Devon, Simon Jupp, has been criticised over a Conservative campaign leaflet designed to look like a local newspaper.

The ‘East Devon Echo’ is being posted to addresses in the new Sidmouth and Honiton constituency, where Mr Jupp will stand for the Tories in the next General Election.

It contains a selection of articles highlighting Mr Jupp’s activities and campaigns in East Devon, along with items on the Conservative party’s policies.

In what appears to be a national Tory campaign strategy, similar publications imitating the appearance and names of local newspapers are being circulated around the country.

Exmouth Journal: Inside pages of the' East Devon Echo'

Concerns were raised about the ‘East Devon Echo’ by a local resident who received a copy in the post.

He said: “It’s fake news and needs to be called out as such. The advertisement on the back serves to make the rest feel like genuine news.

“It doesn’t at any point say it’s published by the Conservative party!

“These publications seem to be a deliberately misleading attempt to fool voters by presenting partisan political propaganda as independent news. It’s knowingly cynical.”

Jess Bailey, the Independent county councillor for the Otter Valley, agrees that the East Devon Echo is misleading.

She said: “Judging both from the fictitious title and the lack of Conservative branding, it is designed to give residents the false impression that this is a genuine and independent local newspaper when it most definitely is not. I'm not at all impressed by this type of antics, especially when confidence in politicians is already at rock-bottom."

Simon Jupp, a former journalist himself, has in the past spoken out about the importance of local news and ‘proper journalism’, while criticising ‘pseudo websites masquerading as legitimate sources of news’.

The Herald asked him whether he is comfortable with his party distributing this kind of campaign material.

He said: “Such publications are used by most major political parties, including the Liberal Democrats and Labour. In response, I have had many positive conversations on the doorstep and emails offering support for my campaign in the new Honiton & Sidmouth constituency.”

In the run-up to the 2019 General Election all three main parties were criticised by the Electoral Commission for distributing campaign material imitating local newspapers.

But the Commission said it does not have the power to regulate this material, which is legal if it carries an ‘imprint’ identifying who is responsible for producing and promoting it.

The East Devon Echo does have this in very small print at the bottom of the front page, indicating that it is being promoted by the EDCA - which stands for the East Devon Conservative Association.