Channel 4's website has recruited a crack team of political journalists to scrutinise statements and facts given by UK politicians in the run up to the UK's general election.

FactCheck is led by Jon Bernstein, former editor-in-chief of the government's DirectGov website. The team will monitor press releases, speeches, interviews and broadcasts made by politicians in all major parties highlighting any exaggeration, inaccuracy or significant omissions in the figures or facts they use.

The site takes its lead from the innovative online political scene in the US - putting a UK spin on the idea behind, a hugely successful site launched for the US Presidential election in November 2004.

Six full-time journalists and researchers are working with ITN and Channel 4 on the FactCheck project, which officially launches on 30 March. The team includes Joy Copley, former political editor for the Scotsman and lobby correspondent for the Daily Telegraph, FT and Guardian writer Ben King and former lobby correspondents Chris Gray and Chris Smith.

Channel 4 said that the site was part of Channel 4's public service remit and aims to encourage public debate and engagement with political issues.

The project also indicates the increasing credibility of online journalism, Mr Bernstein told dotJournalism.

"A project like this has to be impartial, empirical, dispassionate and reliable. We feel it will be successful if we apply those principles," he said.

"This is a second chance for dot com journalism. The credibility gap is closing - and the fact that Channel 4 and ITN have chosen to set up this project demonstrates that."

Mr Bernstein said that it was important that the project is seen to be editorially independent, which is why FactCheck could not have been attempted by a newspaper publisher.

"The nature of newspapers means that they often have a certain amount of critical baggage, and consumers often have a preconceived notion of where that publication is coming from," he said.

"But if they had an axe to grind it wouldn't work. It is important that FactCheck is impartial - it can only work by presenting facts."

The site will run until the general election, expected to be on 5 May, but there may be potential to continue the project to cover single issues such as the referendum on the European constitution.

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