Croydon MP Barwell was a target in Mirror’s “sext” sting

Gavin Barwell, the Croydon Central MP and a government whip, was one of a number of Tories targeted by the Sunday Mirror as part of the Twitter sleaze sting which led to the resignation yesterday of government minister Brooks Newmark.

Sleaze: Brooks "No Mark" Newmark was not the only Tory MP targeted in the Mirror sting

What has he been doing with that hand? Brooks “No Mark” Newmark was not the only Tory MP targeted in the Sunday Mirror Twitter sting

Newmark today admitted to feeling a complete dick. The newspaper has reported that he sent X-rated pictures of himself to a bogus Twitter account set up by Mirror journalists in the name of a supposedly young, blonde Tory activist “Sophie Wittams”.

Newmark sent his resignation letter to Prime Minister David Cameron yesterday, just hours before the scandal was published on the front page of the Sunday tabloid.

It capped off a dire afternoon for the Tories, who had just seen another of their MPs, the appropriately named Mark Reckless, jump ship for UKIP. This double blow came on the eve of the Conservative party conference in Birmingham.

In the overall scheme of things, as Cameron takes Britain into a third war in Iraq in 25 years, losing a second sitting MP to UKIP inside a few weeks is a lot bigger than Newmark’s todger. 

But the stench of sleaze – Newmark is a married father of five – and poor judgement will hardly be welcome as the Tories try to represent themselves as a party fit to govern.

“No Mark” was turned over in an old-fashioned Sunday tabloid sting, as the paper was investigating “the inappropriate use of social media by MPs”.

According to the Mirror today, “During a late-night chat with the undercover reporter, who had sent him an explicit picture supposedly of ‘Sophie’, Newmark asked for a more explicit picture ‘without your hands in the way and legs parted’. He then said: ‘I will send you something in return – that way we each have a secret’.”

"Sophie Wittams": non-existent activist sent tweets to Tory MPs, including Gavin Barwell

“Sophie Wittams”: non-existent activist sent tweets to Tory MPs, including Gavin Barwell

The newspaper reports that Newmark “… initiated a private message conversation online and, during ­flirtatious chats and photo exchanges, sent a graphic snap exposing himself while wearing a pair of paisley pyjamas”. Which is a step up from David Mellor’s infamous Chelsea shirt. Isn’t it?

The Sophie Wittams Twitter account has since been deleted, though not before some clever digital digging uncovered its history to show that the bogus “political activist” had sent complimentary messages to a range of Tory MPs.

These included Dan Byles, Charlie Elphicke, Rob Jenrick (the Westminster new boy who last year flirted briefly with seeking selection as the candidate in Croydon South), Reckless and Croydon’s own Barwell.

Barwell didn’t take the bait. Indeed, according to BuzzFeed reporter Jim Waterson, only a handful of the politicians replied and there is no suggestion that any MP other than Newmark sent inappropriate “sexts”.

What intrigues is what it was that could have persuaded the Sunday Mirror’s investigators to include Barwell in their sleaze trawl?

After all, Barwell has been spending tens of thousands of pounds of tax-payers’ money for the past four years to employ an office fag to look after his “social media” presence.

But even that didn’t stop Barwell blundering on Twitter last year.

Party whip: what was it that saw the Mirror include Gavin Barwell in their sext scandal sting?

Party whip: what was it that saw the Mirror include Gavin Barwell in their sext scandal sting?

Barwell’s “Dating Arab Girls” episode came to light in 2013 when he tried to score cheap political points.

All Barwell managed to do was to expose himself over his ignorance of how Google AdSense works, and also give the world an insight into his own browser history, as a dating site’s online advertisement was served on to his screen based on other websites he had viewed previously. The Guardian reported the embarrassing episode in full here.

Barwell is the Tories’ former chief operating officer who on Monday had the adulterer Boris Johnson along to give his campaign for re-election a big thrusting launch.

In an evening of Barwell self-gratification, the Croydon Central MP stressed that he is family man and lifelong Croydon resident. He has also previously revealed himself to be a fan of Liverpool FC, the rapper Public Enemy, the actress Joan Collins, star of the movie The Bitch, and the television soap opera Dynasty.

None of which seems likely to have seen him included in the Sunday Mirror’s sext sting.

Coming to Croydon

Inside Croydon: Croydon’s only independent news source, based in the heart of the borough: 407,847 page views (Jan-Jun 2014) If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, a residents’ or business association or local event, please email us with full details at

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
This entry was posted in 2014 council elections, Croydon Central, Gavin Barwell and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Croydon MP Barwell was a target in Mirror’s “sext” sting

  1. derekthrower says:

    Sharp exhale of breath from Gav. Pheeew.

  2. mraemiller says:

    Given Gavin Barwell’s twitter account is operated by more than one person and his emails are answered by at least three who cant always remember to sent their replies back from the same account or with the correct signature appended one wonders who else in the Tory party may be Dating Arab Girls

Leave a Reply