UK & World News

  • 20 November 2012, 17:27

Sally Bercow Names Teen In New Twitter Row

Sally Bercow has quit Twitter after sparking a new furore by naming a teenage schoolgirl protected by a court order.

Having already embroiled herself in the Lord McAlpine row, the wife of the Commons Speaker named a girl who allegedly ran away with a maths teacher.

Mrs Bercow sent a message to her 59,000 followers on the website on Sunday, asking what had happened to teacher Jeremy Forrest and naming the girl.

Journalists immediately warned her of her mistake and she deleted her tweet hours later, but legal experts said she could be fined for contempt of court.

In the wake of her latest gaffe, she posted late on Monday: "Looking at tweets but (sadly) can't reply (#lawyerswhippedmyass #asdidMrB). So text/email/DM me if you're a mate. Hope 2 b back soon. xx."

But hours later, her Twitter feed was no longer accessible and attempts to reach it directed to a page declaring: "Sorry, that page doesn't exist!"

Some reports suggested she may have taken the step after apparently being hacked.

A derogatory message was published on her page overnight, saying: "Hello 1000s of followers (funking lunatics). Stupid woman - password softearev."

Mr Forrest was arrested in Bordeaux in September after a search by police in Britain and France. He was returned to Britain and has been charged with child abduction.

A court made what is known as a Section 39 Order under the Children and Young Persons Act 1933, which forbids naming the girl involved in the case.

The order states: "Any publication by whatever media in breach of this order is punishable by a fine in the sum of 5,000."

Sussex Police, the investigating force in the Forrest case said: "We will actively investigate potential criminal breaches of these restrictions."

Mrs Bercow is already under intense scrutiny because of her Twitter account after she waded into the speculation sparked by allegations a senior Tory was involved in child sex abuse.

She posted: "Why is Lord McAlpine trending? *innocent face*."

Lord McAlpine was not named in the BBC Newsnight programme that reported the allegations but was identified later in the subsequent social media frenzy.

After a week, his alleged victim confirmed he had made a mistake and the peer reached a 185,000 settlement with the corporation last week.

Mrs Bercow insisted her post about the peer was not libellous but has now received a letter before action from Lord McAlpine's solicitors.

The former Tory's legal team have made clear they are targeting people who named him on Twitter, warning: "We know who you are."

Mrs Bercow wrote on Twitter: "Thanks for phone calls/texts/tweets. I guess I'd better get some legal advice then. Still maintain was not a libellous tweet - just foolish."

Several users of the site did come to her defence after her second gaffe, suggesting that the name of the teenager is already widely known.

"The Section 39 Order is an ass. In a pub quiz, we'd all know the name," tweeted ?@shcomben.

"The whole Sally Bercow debacle is a hit (sic) much - wasn't that girl's name common knowledge at the time?" @HartleyR27 said.

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