Sally Bercow disappears from Twitter: is she victim or villain?
The Speaker's wife has had her account deleted, but many mourn her departure
SALLY BERCOW'S travails with Twitter may finally have come to an end after she deleted her account, but her disappearance from the social networking site today following a series of legal gaffes and a hacking episode has been greeted with dismay in some quarters.
Bercow, the wife of House of Commons Speaker John Bercow, was well known for her forthright opinions and as an activist for the Labour Party her public pronouncements frequently embarrassed her Tory husband.
But in recent days she has fallen foul of the law. Last week Lord McAlpine threatened to sue her and other Twitter users after he was falsely linked to a child abuse scandal in North Wales.
Yesterday she found herself in more hot water when she named the alleged victim in a child abduction court case, whose identity is legally protected.
When her mistake was pointed out, Bercow appeared annoyed and after deleting the offending message she said: "Apparently, I shouldn't have tweeted that. You need a law degree to be on Twitter nowadays. It's ridiculous." As The Times reports, she then declared her account was "on hold under legal advice".
But that wasn't the end of it. Last night a hacker apparently got into her Twitter account and posted a badly-typed message describing her as a "stupid woman". Later the account disappeared entirely, deleted either by the hacker or Bercow herself.
New Statesman blogger Alex Hern had some sympathy for Bercow's legal troubles. He said that she should have known better than to name the teenager in the abduction case but added that the current legal system "isn't fit for purpose in an age when nearly everyone in the country regularly uses tools which are capable of breaching those orders".
Others looked beyond Bercow's problems with media law and painted her as a heroine who had upset the establishment. "Bercow might be problematic, but most of the anger towards her reflects a nervousness about the kind of cultural change she represents in Westminster," claimed Ian Dunt on Politics.co.uk. "Bercow's use of language challenges Westminster's power structure."
Former MP Louise Mensch also defended Bercow on Twitter. "Here's what Sally Bercow did with social media that was really important; she lived out an important feminist principle," Mensch said. "She absolutely refused to be bowed or bullied by those who tried to define her (and by extension all wives) by husband's role/politics."