Sally Kate Bercow is a British public figure and the wife of British politician John Bercow. A ‘Labour’ activist with an ambition to become a ‘Labour’ MP, Bercow came into the limelight when she actively campaigned for Tony Blair, the last ‘Labour Party’ leader to become the prime minister of the UK (1997–2007). She is also on the approved list of candidates for the members of parliament for the ‘Labour Party.’ However, a legal scuffle with a ‘Conservative’ peer undermined her position as an aspiring ‘Labour’ MP. She participated as a housemate in the eighth season of the TV reality show ‘Celebrity Big Brother.’ She was dragged into controversy when an infamous photograph of her wrapped in a bed sheet, overlooking the ‘House of Commons,’ was published in ‘London Evening Standard.’
Childhood & Early Life
Sally Bercow was born on November 22, 1969, in Sutton, Surrey, to Eileen and Ronald Ilman. His father was a builders' merchant. She was the oldest of the four children of her parents.
Bercow attended the independent co-educational ‘King Edward’s School’ in Witley, Surrey, where she was in ‘St. Bridget's House’ from 1981 to 1986.
After her father’s death, at age 16, Bercow used her inheritance money to send herself to the exclusive private school ‘Marlborough College’ in Wiltshire, from where she completed her A levels. There, she was a contemporary of Samantha Cameron, who would later become the wife of British prime minister David Cameron (2010–2016).
Bercow attended ‘Keble College,’ ‘Oxford University,’ to study theology and then history but dropped out after 2 years. She was the social secretary of the ‘Oxford University Conservative Association.’
After college, Bercow embarked on a career in public relations in London and then ventured into advertising.
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As a ‘Labour’ activist, Bercow campaigned extensively for Tony Blair and then for the election of Ed Balls as the leader of the ‘Labour Party’ in the 2010 ‘Labour’ leadership election.
In 2010, she stood unsuccessfully as a ‘Labour’ candidate for the St. James’s ward of the ‘Westminster City Council.’
Bercow did not hide her ambition of becoming a ‘Labour’ MP for the marginal Brighton Kemptown seat.
In 2015, it was reported that Bercow would stand for Holborn and St. Pancras upon Frank Dobson’s retirement. It was also revealed that she would become the ‘Labour’ prospective parliamentary candidate (PPC) for Harrow East.
Bercow’s political affiliations have always been a topic of debate, primarily because her husband is a Speaker who is supposed to remain impartial in his political views. He is already hated by the ‘Tories’ because of his unlikely journey from being a hard right-wing ‘Conservative’ to a Speaker with ‘Labour’ patronage. It is often speculated that Sally’s political views may jeopardise her husband’s neutral position.
In 2011, against the wishes of her husband, Bercow appeared as a contestant in the eighth season of the popular TV reality show ‘Big Brother.’ She was, however, the first one to be evicted from the house, after being nominated by fellow housemate, former pop star Kerry Katona. Bercow is reportedly happy with this participation, as she helped raise £100,000 for an autism charity through her appearance on the show.
Bercow has also appeared in a celebrity edition of ‘The Chase’ and ‘Big Star's Little Star’ (with her daughter, Jemima, in the latter). She was initially scheduled to take part in the second series of ‘The Jump’ but had to quit after suffering an injury during training.
Bercow’s first major criticism came in 2011, when she posed in a bed sheet, with the ‘House of Commons’ in the background, for the magazine ‘London Evening Standard.’ In the article, she stated, "becoming Speaker has turned my husband into a sex symbol.” She also made a comment stating that living near the ‘Big Ben’ was like an "aphrodisiac” for her. However, this criticism was nothing in comparison to the storm Bercow created by entering the ‘Big Brother’ house a few months later.
Bercow’s strongest criticism came in November 2012, when she hinted through her ‘Twitter’ account that Lord McAlpine, a ‘Conservative’ peer, was probably a paedophile. The tweet read: “Why is Lord McAlpine trending? ^innocent face^.”
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Following the “tweet,” McAlpine filed a defamation suit against Bercow, accusing her tweet to be “libellous.” The case, ‘McAlpine v Bercow,’ became a landmark legal case in the UK.
On May 24, 2013, the presiding judge found the allegation groundless and Bercow’s tweet was deemed libellous both for its natural meaning and the innuendo it had. The phrase “innocent face” was judged as one that offered a specific meaning to readers.
Bercow agreed to pay £50,000 as emotional damages to the peer and his family.
In 2012, Bercow found herself amidst controversy when she named the supposed victim in a child abduction court case. The identity of the victim is always legally protected.
Family & Personal Life
Sally first met John Bercow at an ‘Oxford University Conservative Party’ event in 1989. They married in 2002.
The couple has three children, Jemima, Freddie, and Oliver. Oliver is their oldest son and suffers from autism.
The family lives in one of London’s posh grace-and-favor apartments in the ‘Palace of Westminster.’
Bercow had a year-long affair with her husband’s cousin, Alan Bercow. She was alleged to have leaked the story to the media in 2015.
Bercow is a parent patron of the charity ‘Ambitious about Autism,’ a UK-based national charity dedicated to improving opportunities for young people suffering from autism. She donated £100,000 to this charity, raised through her appearance in the eighth season of ‘Big Brother.’
Bercow once told a London-based magazine that her husband’s job as a Speaker had made him more sexually attractive.