Sally Bercow

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Sally Bercow
Sally Kate Illman[1][2]

(1969-11-22) 22 November 1969 (age 49)[3]
OccupationPolitical activist, media personality
Years active2002–present
John Bercow (m. 2002)

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

Early life[edit]

Bercow attended the independent co-educational King Edward's School in Witley, Surrey, where she was in St Bridget's House from 1981–86. She took her A levels at Marlborough College, where she was a contemporary of Samantha Cameron.[3][5] She attended Keble College, Oxford, dropping out after one year. She was the social secretary of the Oxford University Conservative Association.

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


Her husband, John Bercow, became a Conservative member of parliament at the 1997 General Election. She campaigned for New Labour and their candidate Tony Blair. She campaigned for her husband John Bercow to help win his seat.[6] She campaigned for the election of Ed Balls as leader of the Labour Party in the 2010 Labour leadership election.[7]

In 2010, she stood as Labour candidate for the St James's ward of Westminster City Council, unsuccessfully.[1] Bercow is on the approved list of candidates for members of Parliament for the Labour Party,[8] although following the Lord McAlpine Twitter case (see McAlpine v Bercow and below), she is reportedly unlikely to be considered.[9] 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.[10] It was reported that Bercow was in line to stand for Holborn and St Pancras if Frank Dobson retired,[11] and she had been linked to standing to become the Labour prospective parliamentary candidate for Harrow East in 2015.[12]

The Daily Telegraph has suggested that Bercow is politicising her husband's neutral role.[13] John Bercow has rejected this criticism stating "the obligation of impartiality does not apply to my wife who is not my chattel".[2] She has also appeared on the BBC's Question Time.[14]


In 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.[15] In the article she was quoted as saying "becoming Speaker has turned my husband into a sex symbol",[16] 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."[17] John Bercow was reported as having "read the Riot Act" to her after the bed sheet photo was published.[8]

Bercow entered the Big Brother House as a housemate on Channel 5's Celebrity Big Brother 8. She became the first person to be evicted.[18] She has also appeared on a celebrity edition of The Chase and Big Star's Little Star (with her daughter Jemima). She was initially scheduled to take part in the second series of The Jump, but had to quit after suffering an injury during training.[19]

Personal life[edit]

She and her husband have been married since 2002, and have three children:[6] Jemima, Oliver, and Freddie. Her elder son, Oliver, has autism. She is a parent patron of the charity Ambitious about Autism.[20] She admitted to having had an affair with her husband's cousin.[21]

Legal controversies[edit]

The McAlpine affair[edit]

After the 2 November 2012 broadcast of a BBC Two's Newsnight that linked an unnamed "senior Conservative" politician to sex abuse claims,[22] Bercow hinted on her twitter account at the name of Lord McAlpine, implying that he was a paedophile.[23]

McAlpine took legal action against Bercow and others and, in December 2012, Bercow's solicitors, Carter-Ruck, announced that they were defending her in a £50,000 libel lawsuit filed by McAlpine.[24] On 24 May 2013, the High Court found that Sally Bercow's tweet was "libelous." Following the ruling, she accepted a settlement with McAlpine's lawyers to pay an undisclosed sum as damages.[25]

The abducted schoolgirl controversy[edit]

In a tweet of 18 November 2012, Bercow named the schoolgirl involved in an abduction case although the girl's identity was protected by a court order.[8] Two days later Bercow's Twitter account was deleted after what were described as 'legal gaffes',[26] but she returned to Twitter a week later.


  1. ^ a b "Declaration of Result of Poll" (PDF). Westminster City Council. 6 May 2010. Retrieved 9 September 2019.
  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. Retrieved 9 September 2019.
  4. ^ SallyBercow twitter account Archived 17 March 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Victoria Lambert (29 March 2014). "Why everyone wants a Marlborough missus". The Telegraph (UK). Retrieved 9 September 2019. 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. ^ a b Wheeler, Brian (24 June 2009). "The John Bercow story". BBC News. Retrieved 9 September 2019.
  7. ^ "Supporters". Ed Balls.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ "Sally Bercow abandons Labour ambitions after Twitter child abuse furore". The Daily Telegraph. 24 May 2013.
  10. ^ "Sally Bercow considers standing as Brighton MP". The Argus. 24 November 2011.
  11. ^ "So Solid Sally's new title". PoliticsHome. 14 February 2011. Archived from the original on 6 January 2014.
  12. ^ "Could Sally Bercow join her Speaker husband in the House?". Evening Standard. 22 March 2013.
  13. ^ "Sally Bercow's attack on David Cameron puts pressure on Speaker". The Guardian. 4 December 2009.
  14. ^ "Sally Bercow". IMDb.
  15. ^ "London's sexiest places ... for power lovers". Evening Standard. 3 February 2011. Archived from the original on 7 February 2011.
  16. ^ "Our bedroom secrets by Sally Bercow – 'Becoming Speaker has turned my husband into a sex symbol'". Evening Standard. 3 February 2011. Archived from the original on 5 February 2011.
  17. ^ "Sally Bercow: Bedsheet photo made me look an idiot". The Guardian. 4 February 2011.
  18. ^ "Speaker's wife Sally Bercow voted off Big Brother". BBC News. 26 August 2011.
  19. ^ McGeorge, Alistair (9 January 2015). "The Jump: Sally Bercow is latest celebrity to QUIT after suffering injury in training". Daily Mirror. Trinity Mirror. Retrieved 29 January 2016.
  20. ^ "Parent Patrons". Ambitious about Autism.
  21. ^ Extramarital affair
  22. ^ Greenslade, Roy (24 May 2013). "Twitter users should learn lessons from Sally Bercow's libellous tweet". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 May 2013.
  23. ^ "Bercow in court for McAlpine case". Braintree & Witham Times. 16 May 2013. Retrieved 21 May 2013.
  24. ^ "Sally Bercow Sued By Lord McAlpine For £50k". Sky News. 13 December 2012.
  25. ^ "High Court: Sally Bercow's Lord McAlpine tweet was libel". BBC News. 24 May 2013.
  26. ^ "Sally Bercow's Twitter feed deleted after 'legal gaffes'". The Guardian. 20 November 2012.

External links[edit]