MPs discover the fun of cyberpranks

But the Speaker was not amused

Politicians have been told to stop using the Net to conduct "dirty tricks" campaigns against one another.

Yesterday the Speaker of the House, Michael Martin, said that he did not expect officers or employees of political parties to "seek to or register on the Internet names of members of other parties with a view to misleading members of the public."

His comments were provoked by a point of order brought up by Bob Russell, the Liberal Democrat MP for Colchester, who claimed he was a victim of cyber impersonation.

Russell had heard from colleagues that someone had set up a web site in his name at www.bobrussellmp.co.uk - which no longer goes anywhere. He alleged that the URL redirected surfers to the Conservative Party's home page. He said that investigation of the site "reveal that the site was set up by a leading member of a political party of which I am not a member."

The Speaker expressed "strong disapproval" of the prank. He said: "I expect all political parties represented in the House to take steps to ensure that no such activity is undertaken by them or on their behalf." ®

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