Sally Bercow

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Sally Bercow
Born Sally Kate Illman[1][2]
(1969-11-22) 22 November 1969 (age 45)[3]
Sutton, London, England[2]
Occupation Political activist and media personality
Years active 2002-present
Spouse(s) John Bercow
Children Three (3) [4]

Sally Kate Bercow (née Illman; born 22 November 1969) is the wife of the current Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow.

Early life and education[edit]

Bercow attended King Edward's School Witley where she was in St Bridgets house from 1981 - 1986. She left and did her A levels at Marlborough College where she was a contemporary of the British Prime Minister's wife, Samantha Cameron.[3][5] She later attended Keble College, Oxford, dropping out after two years. She was the social secretary of the Oxford University Conservative Association (OUCA) while at the University.

After university, she pursued a career in public relations and advertising.[2]

Personal life[edit]

She has three children. Her eldest son, Oliver, has autism. She is a Parent Patron of the charity Ambitious about Autism.[6]

Political career[edit]

Her husband became a Conservative MP at the 1997 General Election. However, she changed her political allegiance during the founding days of New Labour and actively campaigned for Tony Blair whilst also campaigning for John Bercow, her then partner, to win his seat.[7] She campaigned for the election of Ed Balls as leader of the Labour Party in the 2010 Labour leadership election.[8]

In 2010, she stood unsuccessfully as a Labour candidate for the St James's ward of Westminster City Council.[1] Bercow is on the approved list of candidates for members of Parliament for the Labour Party,[9] although following the Lord McAlpine Twitter case she is reportedly unlikely to be considered.[10] Bercow has repeatedly mentioned her desire to become a Labour MP, revealing that she would like to become the Labour candidate for the marginal Brighton Kemptown seat.[11] It was reported that Bercow was in line to stand for Holborn and St Pancras if Frank Dobson retired,[12] and she had been linked to standing to become the Labour PPC for Harrow East in 2015.[13]

The Daily Telegraph has suggested that Bercow is politicising her husband's neutral role.[14] John Bercow has rejected this criticism stating "the obligation of impartiality does not apply to my wife who is not my chattel".[2] Bercow has also appeared on the BBC's Question Time[15] where she was highly critical of the Health and Social Care Bill.[citation needed]

Publicity exposure[edit]

On 3 February 2011, she attracted criticism for appearing to capitalise on her husband's position, when a photograph of her wearing only a bed sheet, with the House of Commons in the background, appeared in the London Evening Standard free newspaper.[16] In the article she was quoted as saying "becoming Speaker has turned my husband into a sex symbol",[17] although she later claimed, in a radio interview; "It was just meant to be a bit of fun, but obviously it has completely backfired on me and I look a complete idiot."[18] John Bercow was reported as having "read the Riot Act" to her after the bed sheet photo was published.[9]

Bercow entered the Big Brother House as a housemate on Channel 5's Celebrity Big Brother 2011. She became the first person to be evicted.[19]


Further information: McAlpine v Bercow

In November 2012 Bercow used her Twitter account to hint the name of Lord McAlpine, a Conservative peer, implied to be a paedophile by the BBC's Newsnight programme. As a result, the peer took legal action against Bercow and others. In December, Bercow's solicitors, Carter-Ruck, announced that they were defending her in a £50,000 libel lawsuit filed by McAlpine.[20] On 24 May 2013, the High Court found that Sally Bercow's tweet 'was libelous' and Bercow agreed to pay damages.[21]

In a tweet of 18 November 2012, Bercow named a schoolgirl involved in an abduction case although the girl's identity was protected by a court order.[9] Two days later Bercow's Twitter account was deleted after what was described as 'legal gaffes',[22] but she returned to Twitter a week later.


  1. ^ a b "Declaration of Result of Poll". Westminster City Council. 6 May 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Profile: Sally Bercow". BBC News. 24 May 2013. 
  3. ^ a b "Party girl in the house". The Scotsman. 20 August 2011. 
  4. ^ [1][dead link]
  5. ^ Victoria Lambert (2014-03-29). "Why everyone wants a Marlborough missus". The Telegraph (UK). Retrieved 2015-02-09. Most famous, of course, is the Duchess of Cambridge, “wife of” our future king. But see also, Samantha Cameron, “wife of” the Prime Minister. Frances Osborne, “wife of” the Chancellor. Sally Bercow, “wife of” the Speaker. Diana Fox, “wife of” the Governor of the Bank of England. 
  6. ^ "Parent Patrons". Ambitious about Autism. 
  7. ^ "The John Bercow story". BBC News. 24 June 2009. 
  8. ^ "Supporters". Ed Balls. 
  9. ^ a b c "Sally Bercow in legal hot water AGAIN after she breaches court order by naming schoolgirl in a child abduction case". The Independent. 19 November 2012. 
  10. ^ "Sally Bercow abandons Labour ambitions after Twitter child abuse furore". The Daily Telegraph. 24 May 2013. 
  11. ^ "Sally Bercow considers standing as Brighton MP". The Argus. 24 November 2011. 
  12. ^ "So Solid Sally's new title". PolitcsHome. 14 February 2011. 
  13. ^ "Could Sally Bercow join her Speaker husband in the House?". Evening Standard. 22 March 2013. 
  14. ^ "Sally Bercow's attack on David Cameron puts pressure on Speaker". The Guardian. 4 December 2009. 
  15. ^ "Sally Bercow". IMDB. 
  16. ^ "London's sexiest places ... for power lovers". Evening Standard. 3 February 2011. 
  17. ^ "Our bedroom secrets by Sally Bercow – 'Becoming Speaker has turned my husband into a sex symbol'". Evening Standard. 3 February 2011. 
  18. ^ "Sally Bercow: Bedsheet photo made me look an idiot". The Guardian. 4 February 2011. 
  19. ^ "Speaker's wife Sally Bercow voted off Big Brother". BBC News. 26 August 2011. 
  20. ^ "Sally Bercow Sued By Lord McAlpine For £50k". Sky News. 13 December 2012. 
  21. ^ "High Court: Sally Bercow's Lord McAlpine tweet was libel". BBC News. 24 May 2013. 
  22. ^ "Sally Bercow's Twitter feed deleted after 'legal gaffes'". The Guardian. 20 November 2012. 

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