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Wonga apologises to Stella Creasy over abusive Twitter messages

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Wonga makes 'unreserved' apology after Guardian investigation found an employee of the firm attacked the MP over her anti-payday lender stance.

 

Online lender Wonga has apologised to MP and anti-payday loans campaigner Stella Creasy after a Guardian investigation uncovered evidence an employee of the firm has been using an anonymous Twitter account to publicly attack her, calling her mentally unstable. The investigation found that at least one Wonga employee had been using so-called "sock puppet" accounts to attack critics of the firm and post favourable comments underneath articles about it. One Twitter account, traced to someone operating within Wonga's London office, called Creasy "mental", "nuts", and a "self-serving egomaniac" because of her stance against the controversial firm and the wider payday loans market. When shown the evidence, Creasy said: "Wonga have been less than positive about the arguments I've made about cost-capping [of short-term loans] and have been the most virulent and aggressive about defending the industry as a whole. They will obviously stoop to many levels, and this is just one of them. I would expect an apology."

 

Creasy asked Wonga, as a gesture of goodwill, to promote an event she is organising in her Walthamstow constituency on Saturday 24 November to help families struggling financially. However, Creasy later said she was disappointed the company had apparently not taken her up on her invitation. She said: "The deadline to place an advert in my local paper advertising the event has passed and I understand that Wonga has not bought an ad. This is disappointing given that Wonga could, as a gesture of goodwill, have helped promote the event at which families will be able to access help and advice to manage their finances responsibly."

 

Writing on the OpenWonga website on 21 November, editor Luke Manning said: "Wonga has made an immediate and unreserved apology to Dr Creasy, which we hope she will accept." He added: "I want to make it absolutely clear that the actions of the individual responsible were inexcusable, and completely unacceptable. I also want to underline the fact that OpenWonga was unaware of, had nothing to do with, and disassociates itself entirely from the comments directed at Dr Creasy – which were made anonymously and without authorisation by another Wonga employee.

 

"A disciplinary process is ongoing and the matter is being taken extremely seriously by the company. Dr Creasy has every right to campaign for the things she believes in, and although we may disagree with her view of Wonga, both Dr Creasy and her viewpoint deserve absolute respect."

 

A computer in the Wonga offices appears to have been used to remove from the company's Wikipedia page a reference to controversy over its sponsorship of Newcastle United Football Club and to delete the category of "usury" under the See Also section. Wikipedia users have since re-added the category of "usury" and the reference to Newcastle United on the Wonga.com Wikipedia entry. Wonga maintains "an unauthorised junior employee" is responsible for the attacks on Creasy and the sock-puppetry.

 

Link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2012/nov/21/wonga-apologises-stella-creasy-abusive-twitter-messages


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