The Tweets That Brought Down Brooks Newmark Are Far From How A 20-Something Activist Would Really Behave

A journalist posed as a girl called Sophie to get an MP into a sexting scandal. However, to do it, he made up some really stupid tweets and took photos from other women without their permission. Is that right?


by Sophie Wilkinson |
Published on

Over the weekend, a Tory MP quit his role over a 'sexting' scandal. He'd sent a 20-something Tory activist called Sophie Wittams photos via private message on Twitter pulling his pyjamas to the side to reveal himself. The former minister for civil society is married with five children, so when he quit, he explained: 'I have no one to blame but myself. I have hurt those I care about most.'

However, this was no simple sexting scandal, because it turns out that 'Sophie' was a person concocted by the (male) freelance journalist who organised the sexting 'sting' on Mr Newmark for The Sunday Mirror. This journalist had also attempted to get other MPs in trouble by flirting with them online, using the guise of Sophie.

Picking the name 'Sophie' was a good idea – it's a hugely common name among women of the supposed age of this supposed woman – and of course the pretending was convincing enough for Mr Newmark to fall for it. However, that's where the smartness seems to stop.

Because look at the Tweets 'she' was sending out.

A man, pretending to be a woman who's meant to be intelligent enough to go into political campaigning, assumed she would Tweet mundane things like 'Burning up in the office [three sun emojis]' and 'Won't be able to sleep tonight…' and 'hot hot hot!! [six sun emojis]'

The account has since been deleted, but i100 managed to unearth these Tweets, including 'Sophie's odd response to the time when a huge tabloid paper rated the new female MPs in the Cabinet on the way they dressed. The 'activist' said: 'Well I think they all look great! #GirlPower.'

READ MORE: Nick Clegg Has Taken A Brilliant Pop At The Sexist Coverage Of Cabinet Reshuffle

We can't quite put our finger on it, but somewhere along the line, a male reporter posing as a woman Tweeting about feminism, but in a stupid way, all as part of a bigger plan to get an MP to expose themselves via sext, is really creepy. It wouldn't have been that much less creepy if a female journalist had done the job, but at least the Tweets wouldn't have looked so mocking.

To pose as Sophie, the journalist used photos of two blondes. One is 22-year-old Swedish model Malin Sahlén. She told Swedish national paper Aftonbladet that using the photos, without her permission, was 'disturbing.' Charlene Tyler, 26, a British mum of two, was the other person who had her photo used for a bikini shot of 'Sophie.'

'I don't think [sexting] is something to resign over. I hope the MP is okay. It makes me feel really awful that this will ruin his life,' she told* The Telegraph*. 'The fact a newspaper was stealing my photograph is quite wrong. The newspaper's taken it too far.'

Meanwhile, Newmark is said to be asking the new press regulatory body IPSO to investigate the paper, for what he's calling entrapment. Charlotte Harris, a media lawyer for top firm Mishcon De Reya, told MailOnline: 'I think many members of the public reading the Sunday Mirror story will consider that it does amount to entrapment – particularly if you look at when the story has been used.’

Plus, did anyone really need to see a 56-year-old man exposing himself in his flannel pyjamas? If so, why not get a female journalist on the case? For the record, Newmark's voting history is pro-student fees and pro-benefit cuts. But even if he deserves to be brought down for that, is a sexting 'scandal' really the way to do it?

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Follow Sophie on Twitter @sophwilkinson

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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