THE Conservative Party will be taken to court over their “undemocratic” leadership election by a media organisation, it has been announced.

Tortoise Media, a news website founded by an ex-BBC director in 2019, has said it will launch a legal challenge against the party in hope of forcing Tory HQ to release data about members voting in the contest.

Editor James Harding said he had registered the newsroom's pet tortoise Archie as a member of the Conservative Party as well as “a couple of foreign nationals and the late Lady Thatcher”.

He said all the party accepted fees from the fraudulent applicants, issued them with membership numbers and invited them to hustings events.

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None of the new “members” would have voting rights as party rules bar people who have been members for less than three months from voting in a leadership poll.

The National: The PM's resignation over the Chris Pincher scandal earlier this year triggered a leadership electionThe PM's resignation over the Chris Pincher scandal earlier this year triggered a leadership election

Harding said he then wrote to the party’s CEO Darren Mott to express concern about the process for joining, which he said raised questions about whether members “are who they say they are”.

Also at stake was the public’s knowledge of who was choosing the next prime minister, said Harding, because the party would not provide information about the ages, genders, locations or jobs of Tory members.

Harding said more was known about the make up of the Chinese Communist Party than the Tories, adding: “Party insiders estimate the membership has grown by 50-70,000 people in the last three years, but no one can say who they are; no one, in fact, can say how many of the members are on the electoral register.”

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The site also claimed one former head of a UK national security agency said the party was not capable of running “an election of this importance”.

In a letter sent to Mott, party chairman Ben Elliott and the 1922 committee chair Graham Brady, the site informed them it would be seeking a judicial review in order to force them to release information about the party membership and how it makes sure of the authenticity of the identities of members.

The website said Mott has written back to them about their initial inquiry.

They were reportedly told the Conservative Party is “answerable only to the Party Board and [Brady]” and did not serve a “public function”.

Voting in the election, which is widely expected to result in Liz Truss being made the next prime minister, closes on Friday with the results announced on Monday, September 5.

A Conservative Party spokesman said: "We will respond in due course."