The Department of Health has said it will not release copies of communications with the Vote Leave group over the ‘misuse’ of the NHS logo throughout the referendum campaign.
The italicised form of the NHS Logo has been emblazoned on the side of the Leave camp’s battle bus, and on leaflets making claims that the UK ‘sends the EU £350 million every week’ and proposing ‘let’s fund our NHS instead’.
Responding to a parliamentary question on Monday, life sciences minister George Freeman MP said that releasing copies of communications would be ‘prejudicial to the interests’ of the DH and NHS.
Mr Freeman was responding to questioning from shadow health minister Justin Madders MP who has previously asked what steps were being taken in response to Vote Leave’s use of the logo.
Mr Freeman said on 9 June: ‘Vote Leave is not authorised to use the National Health Service trademark, or an adaptation of it.
‘The Department has sought legal advice and has been in contact with the Vote Leave campaign about misuse of the NHS brand.’
But when asked if these communications would be published Mr Freeman responded on 27 June: ‘The communications between the Department and Vote Leave are considered prejudicial to the interests of the Department and the National Health Service and as such, it is not appropriate to publish the correspondence.
Within hours of the referendum results UKIP leader Nigel Farage had admitted that there was ‘no guarantee’ that £350m would be spent on the NHS, and that the Leave campaign had made a mistake in claiming this.
The claims over the NHS during the campaign also saw former GP and chair of the Health Select Committee, Dr Sarah Wollaston, drop her support for an ‘out’ vote and join the remain campaign.