A NEWLY-ELECTED Liberal Democrat councillor is under investigation by Merseyside Police after taking Labour leaflets from houses in Newton-le-Willows.

CCTV footage began circulating on social media on Thursday that appear to show Cllr David Smith reaching into a letterbox on the Vulcan Estate to retrieve a leaflet.

The Lib Dem councillor, who was elected last night, then appears to scrunch up the leaflet and put it in his pocket.

A second video from the same estate began circulating on social media later in the day that also appears to show Cllr Smith reaching into a letterbox.

Merseyside Police has now confirmed it is investigating the two incidents and has appealed to the public for information.

A police spokesman said: "Merseyside Police can confirm officers have been made aware of two incidents in the Newton-le-Willows area.

"An investigation is ongoing and anyone with information is asked to contact @MerPolCC, 101 or @CrimestoppersUK."

Newton Labour councillor Jeanie Bell tweeted out the initial video yesterday, prior to the Lib Dems wrestling the Newton seat from Labour.

Cllr Bell said: “Lib Dem candidate for Newton David Smith rifling through peoples letterboxes to take out what we just posted through.

“Politics is a tough place to be but this is not acceptable at all.”

Cllr Smith has since apologised for taking the leaflets.

He told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that he removed two Labour leaflets from two properties that were in “poor condition” before pushing his own through the letterbox.

Cllr Smith denies doing this at other properties.

The newly-elected councillor said he has spoken to the owner of the house in the original video and has apologised.

Cllr Smith said he has not seen the second video that was posted to social media but said it “must have been” the second house he took the leaflet from.

He said: “I apologise for any offence I have caused. Looking at it now I should not have taken it out.

“I apologise profusely.”

The two incidents have been reported to St Helens Council’s monitoring officer, Jan Bakewell.

Merseyside Police and the Electoral Commission have also been informed.

A spokesman for Merseyside Police initially said that after reviewing the footage, it did not appear that any criminal offences have taken place, so had passed the matter on to the council.

It has since been confirmed that a police investigation is now taking place.

St Helens Council declined to comment.

Labour’s Jeanie Bell said Cllr Smith and the Lib Dems have "disgraced themselves", calling the campaign tactics “unfair and undemocratic”.

“Politics can be tit for tat,” Cllr Bell said.

"We get that. And although the public get fed up with it, that’s how it is.

“However, actively going up peoples’ driveways to steal letters out of someone’s letterbox is unfair and undemocratic.

“The Lib Dems and David Smith have disgraced themselves here.

“We don’t know how many leaflets they’ve stolen and who hasn’t had the information now.

"It’s terrible.”

St Helens Star:

Lib Dem councillor David Smith has been elected to the Newton ward