Sunday People

We need action on online witch-hunts


I am thrilled and delighted when anyone brings a new baby into the world, so congratula­tions to Boris Johnson and his wife, Carrie, on the birth of their baby boy, Frank Alfred Odysseus. Considerin­g this is Boris’ eighth child, however, I would like to remind the former Prime Minister of his concerns on population control from 2007. He wrote: “The world’s population is now 6.7 billion, roughly double what it was when I was born. If I live to be in my mid-80s, then it will have trebled in my lifetime. We seem to have given up on population control.”

Hypocrisy is rife amongst the Tories in so many ways.

It was my 10-year wedding anniversar­y to Lincoln on Thursday.

I feel like a poster-girl for “It’s never too late”. No one gave us a cat in hell’s chance at the beginning.

Lincoln is my third husband, we didn’t get married until I was 55 and he’s 14 years younger than me.

I had just come out of a 24-year marriage to Tim Healy. Lincoln and I were both suffering with alcohol issues and everybody was against us. But we knew there was something special to our relationsh­ip.

We have the most wonderful marriage. It’s the bedrock of my life.

I hope that this shows we no longer just have to make our beds and lie in them – I’m 65 and still have many adventures ahead of me.

We’re going to celebrate in Malta. The secret to a happy marriage? I pick my battles and we don’t nag!

Son Matty

My main takeaway from the whole sorry and complicate­d sex images scandal is not about Huw Edwards’ alleged conduct or the BBC’S response.

I’m horrified by the lawless world of social media, where accusation­s can go unchecked and nameless trolls can create unfounded conspiracy theories – with no consequenc­es. The thought of being falsely accused of something and being character-assassinat­ed online is atrocious.

Pretty much every male BBC presenter has trended on Twitter and Nicky Campbell has reported a false accusation to the police. His was one of a number of names bandied around as social media rushed to speculate on the presenter’s identity.

Nicky told listeners on his BBC Radio 5 Live programme: “Worse things happen at sea, as they say, but it was a distressin­g weekend – I can’t deny it – for me and others falsely named.” “Distressin­g” feels like an understate­ment for this rampant witch-hunt.

The vitriol aimed at these presenters online has been intense. I can’t comprehend how it must feel to wake up and see your name associated with something so traumatic. Anyone with a grudge against you can make shocking, cruel and untrue comments that can spiral hysterical­ly out of control.

It is not just people in the public eye who suffer. Sensationa­l online

Edwards speculatio­n about the nature of poor Nicola Bulley’s death caused untold trauma to her family and even hampered the police investigat­ion.

The frenzy didn’t even stop when a coroner concluded her death was a result of drowning.

The cesspit of social media has allowed anyone and everyone to become amateur supersleut­hs, trolls and psychics, with devastatin­g real-life consequenc­es.

The lack of social media regulation also causes deepfake technology that leads to vulnerable people losing money and lives being ruined. Finance guru Martin Lewis had to issue a warning after he discovered scammers were circulatin­g a fake video of him on Facebook.

The Government urgently needs to impose serious regulation­s on social media companies such as Twitter and Meta, and more needs to be done to regulate scam adverts. Otherwise, we are dangerousl­y close to living in a social media Wild West of increasing­ly harmful content. Recently, husband Lincoln and I filmed Celebrity Hunted and had our phones taken off us. There was initial trepidatio­n but after half a day, we did not want them back. We plan to go away for a fortnight each year with just burner phones and stay off-grid. I recommend everyone tries it.

I am working on a campaign with a brilliant child poverty charity, Children North East, which has found a disconnect between kids living in poverty and those able to access free school meals.

In the North East, where I am from, 35% of children are growing up in poverty, yet 27% aren’t eligible for free school meals and over a third are using foodbanks.

The gap is growing and more teachers are having to take food into schools to feed children. In 2023 in the UK, this is appalling.

I am thrilled to learn my old show, Byker Grove, is getting a reboot. But increasing numbers of children in the Byker area of Newcastle are living in poverty.

This is what has happened thanks to 13 years of Tory austerity. This is an issue needing urgent attention.

My stepson Lewis and his wife Elizabeth have had a gorgeous little boy, Theo.

He’s four months old now and I am absolutely obsessed.

I never knew how I would feel about becoming a nana. Lewis sent me a GIF the other day of a son coming through the door saying: “Hi mum.” She says “f*** off” before pushing the son aside and racing to the grandchild! That’s me now! And now I can understand why my mum and dad were like that, too – I completely get it. I remember when I first had Matty and my mum said: “I always knew I would love my grandchild but I never expected the overwhelmi­ng outpouring of love.” Theo has just brought so much joy to nana and grandad’s life. Grandchild­ren fill a hole in your heart you didn’t know was there.

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 ?? ?? IN THE PINK: Margot Robbie at Barbie premiere
IN THE PINK: Margot Robbie at Barbie premiere

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