Is Reform UK's Mark Matlock real? Candidate responds to claims he's AI

Is Reform UK's Mark Matlock real? Candidate responds to claims he's AI

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GB News

The general election has been and gone and we’re seeing a new Labour government in its infancy, but there’s one aspect of Thursday’s big vote which is now making headlines – and that concerns online discussion about whether a number of candidates who stood for Reform UK are actually real people.

Nigel Farage’s party – formerly known as the Brexit Party – fielded 609 candidates on 4 July, and in many cases where Labour candidates won or held onto their seat, Reform UK ended up in second place.

However, now that the dust has settled on six chaotic weeks of campaigning, social media sleuths and journalists alike are questioning the legitimacy of a number of Reform UK candidates after they didn’t show up at declarations, share any pictures of themselves online or have much of a digital presence.

Take Mark Matlock, the party’s candidate in the constituency of Clapham and Brixton Hill, whose AI-like photo of himself only fuelled speculation that he isn’t a real person:

The Independent has since verified Matlock does actually exist though, as the candidate – who finished fifth with 1,758 votes in a contest which saw Labour’s Bell Ribeiro-Addy keep her seat – told the outlet the image is of him.

“I got pneumonia three days before election night. I was exercising taking vitamins so I could attend but it was just not viable. On election night I couldn’t even stand.

“The photo of me was taken outside the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. I had the background removed and replaced with the logo and they changed the colour of my tie. The only reason that was done was because we couldn’t get a photographer at such short notice - but that is me,” he said.

He appeared on GB News as well, criticising “fake news” which has come out about his very existence.

But he’s not the only Reform UK candidate who has faced questions over whether they are actually a real person, as in Glasgow South West the party’s representative was Morag McRae.

She finished with 2,236 votes, but didn’t appear at the declaration and doesn’t appear to have a social media presence:

And over on TikTok, stand-up comic Kim Blythe has gone viral for trying to track down Helen Burns, who stood in Glasgow North and picked up 1,655 votes (the full results saw incumbent Alison Thewliss of the Scottish National Party lose her seat to Labour’s Martin Rhodes).

“I’m convinced there’s a candidate in my area that does not exist … I think it’s Nigel Farage in a wig,” she said.

Blythe also penned an email to the local branch of Reform UK which read: “Helen if you’re seeing this hen would love a chat.”

But it seems as though she hasn’t received a response.

And in the latest development, Blythe decided to visit Reform UK’s Victoria Street headquarters in London while on a work visit to see if they had any information to share about Ms Burns.

“It turns out not only are the candidates not real, their office isn’t real, because apparently this is a virtual address, which I didn’t even know was a thing. No Reform was found here,” she said.

Elsewhere, chairman and former leader of Reform UK, Richard Tice, appeared on ITV’s Peston to address the speculation, fuming that the Liberal Democrats have raised questions over the legitimacy of their candidates.

He told the ITV political editor: “It’s a total, fabricated lie. It is nothing short of defamatory, libellous and utterly outrageous.

“We proved it to people like them in The Guardian and still they print this utter trash and garbage. I’m steaming mad about it.

“One of [the candidates] was in hospital at the count with pneumonia – nearly died, for heaven’s sake. These people need to get a grip.”

It’s the latest story to surround Reform UK’s election candidates after a number of them were dropped amid accusations of racism – something which also sparked defections to rival parties.

Indy100 has contacted Reform UK for comment.

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