Row over fake Twitter account for Stafford Mayor

The spoof account

James Billington set up a spoof Twitter account as @mayorofstafford, picked up over 400 followers, attended the Alton Towers season opening in a fake mayoral chain, and upset a local politician, before anyone spotted that he wasn't the real mayor - who happens to be a woman.

The council were furious, but Billington is still tweeting.%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%

The account

He set up the account on 8 March, writing: "I'm James Billington, the current Mayor of Stafford. Delighted to be representing the town of Stafford & surrounding areas. Views are my own."

Since then he has used it for an unusual combination of promoting local businesses and making jokes like : "I like Little Haywood. But then I also like Great Haywood. But which is better? There's only one way to decide! Fight!! ‪#Stafford‬." And "Thought I saw Cristiano Ronaldo inside Guildhall Shopping Centre today. Went and said hello. Turns out it wasn't him. She was fine with it."

His photographs include one claiming to be opening Alton Towers for the season, as well as visiting local businesses and greeting babies in the town centre. He also seems to be making badges saying "I'm the Mayor of Stafford" and handing them out to locals.


According to SWNS, Stafford Borough Council became aware of the account last week, after a complaint from the Mayor of Shrewsbury. Billington had tweeted: "Sharing a meeting with the mayor of Shrewsbury today. Never liked him. Reminds me of one of the bad guys from Superman 2." The mayor responded: "Never had the pleasure of meeting @mayorofstafford . Surprised by his tweet today. Maybe he was hacked or mistaken?"

He then discovered that the real Mayor of Stafford is Labour councillor Angela Loughran, who has held the ceremonial role for ten months, and he complained to the council.

The council has called for Billington's Twitter account to be closed, and according to the Express and Star, it has accused him of bringing the mayoralty into disrepute. However, at the time of writing Billington is still Tweeting. His response to the story breaking was "Heard on the grapevine that someone is going around impersonating mayors. ‪#Notonmywatch‬".

Spoof accounts

It's not the first spoof twitter account. There have been a number of high-profile ones which regularly confuse. Here are five of the best:

@IDS_MP. This parody of the Work and Pensions Secretary even made a fool of David Cameron, who accidentally tagged it a tweet about the benefits cap. The spoof account responded 'Chin chin Dave. Round mine for a Pimms later?'

@notzuckerberg. It's a parody of Mark Zuckerberg , which recently tweeted: "We just bought a virtual reality company for $2 billion, so now we can create a world in which such an acquisition would make sense for us."

@Queen_UK. This has more than a million followers. One recent tweet read: "No, President Putin, you cannot "annex Knightsbridge". You can have Swindon and that is one's final offer."

@MrsStephenFry claims to be the comedian's wife,and has even published a book on the back of her Twitter account. One recent tweet read: "I cooked Stephen's favourite for dinner tonight. Although they do say a parent shouldn't have a favourite."

@TheBatman offers Batman's take on the real world. This Christmas Day he tweeted: "Nothing says "Christmas" like Robin's face when he realizes the PS4 is really an old DVD player with "work harder" written on it in Sharpie."
Read Full Story