Labour MP Tom Watson has responded to the #savetheintern campaign which trended yesterday after his intern sent out an accidental tweet that used the term ‘rape’ in a humour context was sent through his Twitter feed.
The accident led to a quickly followed apology from the intern, with messages of support and discussion around the world about the incident leading to the #savetheintern campaign trending.
After receiving many messages and queries about the incident, Watson responded through his blog, with a list of points that confirmed that the intern had not been sacked, that she was paid over the minimum wage and explained why he had not deleted the offending tweet (republished in full below).
If you are reading this post it’s probably because you are interested in a trending hashtag on Twitter – #savetheintern. There have been hundreds of comments, questions, humorous one liners and attempts at satire, as well as a small amount of legitimate journalistic enquiry. To be honest, I haven’t got the spiritual energy to personally reply to them all. So here’s a bullet point list of answers to many of the questions that have been posed, as well as a few things I would like to get of my chest:
1. My intern is a student and paid above the minimum wage.
2. She is contracted for a year to work part time.
3. People have asked why I have not deleted the offending tweet. The reason is simple. It’s impossible to delete anything once it is published on the internet. To do so would just have lead to screen grabs of the offending tweet reaching a wider audience. I’ll delete it later today when the fuss dies down though. So if, for some weird reason, you do want to screen grab the tweet, do so quickly.
4. The Sun political team retweeted the comment. Given the grievance recently taken out against the Sun’s political editor Tom Newton-Dunn, this was foolish.
5. Journalists on the Times have been ringing people to find more information about the intern. Do you think I don’t know your motives? Please show some decorum.
6. Yes, she’s very embarrassed. She’s also a little intimidated by stories of the Times and the Sun trying to dig up stuff about her.
7. Three journalists have asked for more information. I have given them as much as I can whilst protecting the privacy of a young intern who is not seeking a public profile. I was surprised the BBC didn’t phone to check facts before they published their online story.
8. The intern has not been sacked nor was she ever going to be. She’s young. We all make mistakes.
9. I know her well enough to know she’ll never do this sort of thing again.
10. And yes, I know I should have logged out. I really do. Thank you to the people who pointed that out.
11. For those that have asked – all my tweets, other than the two this morning, are my own.
12. Though my account wasn’t technically ‘hacked’, yes, I do understand the irony of what happened.
13. Once again, I am sorry.