WESTMINSTER EDUCATION Secretary Michael Gove last night faced questions amid claims members of his department had used the social networking site Twitter to launch personal attacks on political opponents and journalists.
It is also alleged the anonymous account – @toryeducation – was used as a means of conducting a Conservative propaganda campaign paid for by the taxpayer.
While the account often contains information on forthcoming Conservative policies, it is often used to criticise journalists while promoting Gove and his department.
The account, which describes itself as the “Pantomime villain of leftie education folk”, allegedly retweeted insinuations about the personal life of Financial Times education correspondent Chris Cook, while comparing him to Walter Mitty and suggesting he was a “stalker”.
It also dubbed Observer political editor Toby Helm “a Labour stooge” while he worked at the Daily Telegraph.
In 2011, it is understood that Henry Macrory, then Tory party head of press, asked two special advisers to tone down the content of the feed as he considered it inappropriate.
Controversy surrounding the account came to light after former children’s minister Tim Loughton, sacked in the September reshuffle, was, according to the Spectator, accused by a “senior Department for Education source” of being a “lazy, incompetent narcissist” after he criticised the way the department was run.
Loughton has made an official complaint to the permanent secretary at the department, Chris Wormald.