DIARY: E-commerce minister in election web gaffe

With MPs falling over each other to prove themselves au fait with

technology, it was inevitable that some would hit trouble in their

attempts to promote themselves via the net.

Many have fallen foul of the 1985 Representation of the People Act,

which bars candidates from calling themselves MPs after the dissolution

of parliament (which happened this year three weeks ago).

Amazingly, minister for e-commerce Patricia Hewitt is one of those

pulled up by tech PR agency Lewis for this gaffe. Although

www.patricia-hewitt-mp.co.uk is 'temporarily offline', it still

describes her as a 'minister of state at the DTI'.

Lewis PA head Clive Booth told PRWeek that a mention of her ministerial

job would be enough to breach Electoral Commission rules were it to

appear on a poster. Booth estimates that a quarter of the 128 web-wise

incumbents running this time use the tag 'MP' in their web address. He

added: 'If the Representation of the People Act is good enough for

posters, direct mail, and so on, then in 2001 the Electoral Commission

should decree that it should apply to the net as well'.

Quite so.

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