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'.