A row has erupted between Labour and the Liberal Democrats over the election leaflets and letters being posted through voters’ doors.

Labour said the Lib Dems had been "dishonest" in a letter to residents but the Lib Dems hit back and accused their political rivals of "double standards".

Matt Turmaine, Labour candidate, said a letter from Maria Cole, who claims to be a former Labour voter urging people to vote for the Lib Dems, was "duplicitous, disgraceful and dishonest."

Mr Turmaine said the letter shows the pensioner "masquerading as a Watford resident" when she is a leading Lib Dem who signed the nomination papers for a party candidate in Portsmouth South.

He said: "The implication is she lives here and knows what’s going on. She has set out to deliberately mislead people.

"Unlike Dorothy Thornhill, I will not take residents for granted and treat them like fools. This leaflet is an utter disgrace and shows a complete lack of respect for voters’ intelligence.

"She should apologise and admit they got it hopelessly wrong. Clearly you can’t trust a word the Lib Dems say."

Mrs Thornhill said while she had "never heard" of Ms Cole, the letter was sent out by the central Liberal Democrat campaign office.

The national party confirmed it had paid for and sent out the letter, calling it "standard practice in all parties".

Mrs Thornhill accused Mr Turmaine of "double standards" - pointing to Labour leaflets with "unaddressed supporters or party members posing as residents".

The Lib Dems highlighted Labour leaflets that depict a "former leading Lib Dem" Richard Grayson backing Mr Turmaine’s campaign.

Mr Grayson described himself as "born and brought up" in Hemel Hempstead when he stood as the Lib Dem parliamentary candidate in the 2010.

Mrs Thornhill said: "This is a storm in a tea cup, people are not stupid. It sounds like Labour is getting desperate."