A 2.0 Sex Scandal

brooks newmark

Brooks Newmark, âgé de 56 ans, père de 5 enfants et co-fondateur du groupe Women2Win a démissionné de son poste de Ministre de la société civile à la suite d’un scandale sexuel.

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An independent journalist wanted to prove that MPs use the social media to get dates. He created a fake Twitter profile, posing as Sophie Wittams, a young Tory activist, and began to follow several political personalities. Until one of them took the bait. After some tweets about tennis exchanged in public, Brooks Newmark started a private conversation, invited her to befriend him on Facebook and invited her to some political events. The conversation continued on Whatsapp, an app with which they exchange a few photos. The Minister began by sending a picture of himself in pyjamas. Then he went further and sent nude photos. Brooks Newmark made her promise to show these photo to nobody: “you MUST swear on a stack of Bibles you won’t show pics as I promise not to show pics of you? OK?”, he wrote. The entrapped Minister had no idea his interlocutor was in fact a journalist who was going to give these messages and photos to the Sunday Mirror, a widely-read tabloid.

Ironically, Minister Brooks Newmark was in charge of the Women2Win campaign which aims at recruiting more women in the Conservative party. David Cameron accepted the resignation of its Minister for Civil Society, without making of statement. “I was a perfect imbecile”, Brooks Newmark declared to the BBC. “I can blame nobody else but myself, I hurt those whom I care for most”. Brooks Newmark also asked that his private life and his family be respected.

Yet can Newmark really be blamed? He wasn’t aware of the fraud. After all, Newmark’s private life is no one else’s business. Dishonest people could argue that the moment you send nude photos of yourself to complete strangers you make the choice to make your private life public. Voters will inevitably think that because he has lied to his family there is no reason he woudn’t lie to his voters. The problem is quite simply that Newmark is an MP and is therefore supposed to be accountable to the people, at least to his constituents. A simple affair of the heart wouldn’t have made a splash if Newmark had been an “ordinary” citizen.

But it should be noted that affairs of the heart are precisely what appeals to many journalists, and there is a good reason why the Sunday Mirror has triggered the scandal. Tabloids are very influential in the UK. Admittedly, British tabloids are more interested in sports, film stars and music than in serious subjects – they never hesitate to post naked pictures of British celebrities – but still, the Sun remains the UK’s most widely-read paper.

Gabrielle BENZIMRA & Louis-Van VU-NGOC

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