Susan Boyle: Erdington MP apologises after Twitter swine flu joke
An MP was forced into an embarrassing public apology after joking about swine flu – as it was revealed a case had been confirmed in Worcestershire.
Erdington MP Sion Simon made the joke on an internet messaging service, shortly before Gordon Brown announced details of British cases.
Victims include a 41-year-old woman from Redditch.
Mr Simon, a skills minister in Mr Brown’s government, repeated a joke originally made by the author of a satirical website which referred to Susan Boyle, the singer who became an international star after appearing on Britain’s Got Talent.
He said: “I’m not saying Susan Boyle caused swine flu. I’m just saying that nobody had swine flu, she sang on TV, people got swine flu.”
But he later apologised, saying: “Earlier I repeated a joke that was in poor taste, which I now regret. I apologise wholeheartedly for any distress or embarrassment caused.”
Both the joke and the apology were published by Mr Simon on the internet using messaging service Twitter, which is also used by celebrities including Stephen Fry and Russell Brand.
Fellow Birmingham MP John Hemming said Mr Simon would not win any talent contests himself.
Mr Hemming (Lib Dem Yardley) said: “A colleague on the city council runs a comedy club, but I don’t think he’s going to hire Sion.”
Mr Simon said: “I repeated someone else’s whimsical comment, which was inappropriately light-hearted about a very serious subject.
“I now regret it, which is why I have apologised.”
Susan Boyle, aged 47, from West Lothian, amazed judges on Britain’s Got Talent with her rendition of I Dreamed A Dream from the musical Les Miserables, which made her the favourite to walk away with the programme’s £100,000 prize.
Politicians are increasingly using Twitter as a way of communicating directly with voters and receiving feedback from the public.