Page last updated at 15:18 GMT, Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Tories demand answers over 'scum-sucking' Twitter

Labour MP David Wright
Labour MP Mr Wright said he was 'upset' about the row

Tory chairman Eric Pickles is demanding answers from a Labour whip who appeared to call the Conservatives "scum-sucking pigs" on Twitter.

David Wright admits using the phrase: "You can put lipstick on a pig but it's still a pig" but said the words "scum-sucking" were added by a "third party".

Mr Pickles said that was "not credible" and Mr Wright had repeatedly called Tories "scum" in the past.

He called on the Labour whip to "stop treating people like fools".

The row follows a message posted on micro-blogging site Twitter which mocked the latest Conservative general election posters, which use the phrase "I've never voted Tory before ...."

'Tinkered' Tweets

A response posted under Mr Wright's name adding the line "because you can put lipstick on a scum-sucking pig, but it's still a scum-sucking pig. And cos they would ruin Britain".

It was deleted after some criticism - and Mr Wright later said someone had "tinkered with my tweet" and he was trying to find out how it happened.

Conservative chairman Eric Pickles told the BBC he believed Mr Wright's comments were aimed at potential Conservative voters - Mr Wright says they were about Tory policy.

Mr Pickles said: "Given that he repeatedly refers to people who are Conservative as 'scum' that seems to me to be not the language you expect of a minister of the Crown, not the way to treat the electorate and frankly we require either an apology for him or some kind of explanation."

Mr Pickles has written to him - asking why in immediate responses to criticism on Twitter he posted that he "must've hit a nerve" and that the Tories "do get riled very easily".

He said it was "as soon as the press start to take an interest" that Mr Wright had started to say his account had been altered.

"I would be grateful if you could now stop treating people like fools," he added - before demanding Mr Wright answer a string of questions on the affair.

Obama

Telford MP Mr Wright spoke to BBC Radio Shropshire on Tuesday and insisted he had not said "scum sucking" and that he was "concerned and upset" about what had happened.

"It looks like somebody, a third party has gone into my account and made it more offensive," he said.

He said his original comment had been a "direct lift" from Barack Obama's controversial comment during the US presidential campaign.

Conservative Party Chairman Eric Pickles wants an apology or an explanation over the Twitter remarks

Asked if his Twitter account had been "hacked" before - Mr Wright said he did not think so but he would have to go through his records. He said a member of his staff had contacted Twitter in the US to find out where the message had come from.

He said he believed his original comment was "legitimate" as Twitter was about "rapid edgy comment" but added: "I didn't tweet the more offensive version".

In a statement later Mr Wright said his account had been "hacked into and changed" and he had previously been "the victim of a cyber attack" when a website was set up in his name without his knowledge - he added his laptop had been stolen before Christmas.

He said he had suspended his Twitter account for now, that he would make a further statement when Twitter reported back to him and would be "seeking a meeting with ministers to discuss the general protection of blog sites".

Carole Theriault, a consultant for IT security firm Sophos, told the BBC it was "improbable" someone's Twitter message could be altered - but it could have been deleted and a changed version republished.

She said: "Twitter accounts do get hacked into often because people guess passwords - if you can guess a password then you can actually access an account."



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SEE ALSO
Row over Labour MP's 'pig jibe'
15 Feb 10 |  UK Politics
Twitter etc and the election risk
10 Feb 10 |  UK Politics
Obama rejects 'lipstick' charge
10 Sep 08 |  Americas
Jackson Twitter not me - Miliband
26 Jun 09 |  UK Politics

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