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Dover and Deal MP Charlie Elphicke targeted by Sunday Mirror reporter in sex sting which claimed job of Tory minister Brooks Newmark

A Kent MP has spoken of his anger after a national newspaper tried to entrap him in an undercover sex sting.

Tory Minister Brooks Newmark resigned at the weekend after it emerged he had posted explicit pictures of himself on social media to an undercover male journalist posing as a young woman.

It has now emerged that the Sunday Mirror also attempted to entrap Dover and Deal MP Charlie Elphicke as part of the same story.

Dover and Deal MP Charlie Elphicke at a previous jobs fair
Dover and Deal MP Charlie Elphicke at a previous jobs fair

The reporter tried to flirt with Mr Elphicke after he tweeted a picture of himself with his two dogs at a Dover pet shop, but drew a blank when the married MP 'politely told him to go away.'

Although Mr Newmark immediately resigned and accepted a lapse in judgement, there was growing controversy today over the Sunday Mirror's tactics.

The reporter adopted the false identity of Sophie Wittams, a "twenty-something Tory PR girl". 'Sophie' then contacted a number of Conservative MPs via Twitter.

One of the other MPs targeted in the sting, Mark Pritchard, has lodged a complaint about the tabloid's methods with the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso), which replaced the Press Complaints Commission this month.

Mr Elphicke, an active Twitter user with more than 6,500 followers, told KentOnline he is now considering following suit.

He said: "I think it's going to be a nasty, dirty election campaign from the left wing press. I've expected that for some time.

"There is a wider issue here with people pretending to be someone else on the internet and using anonymity to launch nasty attacks on people, and it's time that Parliament should look at it.'

Referring to the failed entrapment bid, Mr Elphicke said when he was contacted by the undercover journalist he "made a polite comment - because I'm a polite sort of person - that said: 'Go away'".

MP Charlie Elphicke
MP Charlie Elphicke

Mr Newmark, in contrast, exchanged numerous messages with 'Sophie' before posting an explicit picture in which he exposed himself whilst wearing a pair of paisley pyjama bottoms.There were claims today that the Sunday Mirror may have committed a criminal offence by ‘tricking’ Mr Newmark into sexual activity.

Under the Editors' Code, which Ipso regulates, newspapers must justify intrusions into people’s private lives.

"I made a polite comment - because I'm a polite sort of person - that said: 'Go away'" - Charlie Elphicke

The code states: ‘Engaging in misrepresentation or subterfuge, including by agents or intermediaries, can generally be justified only in the public interest and then only when the material cannot be obtained by other means.’

Daily and Sunday Mirror editor-in-chief Lloyd Embley defended the story, tweeting: " ‘1) it wasn’t a Mirror sting 2) there’s a nailed-on public interest.’

There was further controversy after it emerged the pictures of 'Sophie' appeared to have been taken from the internet.

They show two different women, one of them a model from Sweden, who claims she has been ‘exploited’ by the unauthorised use of her image.

An Ipso spokesman said it would consider any complaints that were submitted.

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