Sally Bercow 'tempted to try' legal high mexxy

 

Speaker's wife Sally Bercow today said the Government's plans to ban a so-called legal high made her tempted to try it before it was too late.

Mexxy, which is sold as an alternative to ketamine and has been linked to two deaths, will be banned within days while the Government's drugs advisers consider whether it should be permanently controlled.

Mrs Bercow assured her more than 45,000 followers on Twitter she would not actually buy any, but admitted she was tempted and "now obsessed with the stuff, despite never having heard of it 1/2 hr ago".

"Am I the only one now slightly tempted to try mexxy before it becomes illegal? I won't, obvs," she wrote.

Later, she added: "Oh, the mexxy ban is only 'temporary'. What's that all about? (Am now obsessed with the stuff, despite never having heard of it 1/2 hr ago)."

The high-profile wife of Commons Speaker John Bercow made the comments less than two hours after the temporary ban, which will last for up to 12 months, was announced by the Home Office.

It follows concerns that two people whose bodies were found in Leicestershire in February may have taken some form of the drug after buying it over the internet.

Police warned people not to take mexxy, which was advertised and sold as a safe alternative to the class C drug ketamine, after the bodies of a 59-year-old woman and a 32-year-old man were found in Leicester and Melton Mowbray on February 11 and 12 respectively.

Under the new temporary banning order, anyone caught making, supplying or importing mexxy, or methoxetamine, will face up to 14 years in prison and an unlimited fine under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, the Home Office said.

Simple possession will not be an offence, but police and border officials will be allowed to search or detain anyone they suspect of having the drug and seize, keep or dispose of a substance they suspect is mexxy.

Crime Prevention Minister Lord Henley said: "Making this drug illegal sends a clear message to users and those making and supplying it that we are stepping up our fight against substances which are dangerous and ruin the lives of victims and their families."

Since the drug was referred to the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) earlier this month, the advisers have presented further evidence that its use can lead to "significant additional toxicity", including agitation, a faster heart rate and higher blood pressure, as well as unsteadiness on the feet.

Such symptoms are rarely seen with ketamine or other recreational drugs, the advisers said.

Professor Les Iversen, chairman of the ACMD, said: "The evidence shows that the use of methoxetamine can cause harm to users.

"Many of the health effects of methoxetamine are similar to those of ketamine, which is already controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

"Users have also reported experiencing other serious effects including agitation, cardiovascular conditions and hypertension."

Speaking at a public meeting of the ACMD in central London, he added that the status of ketamine as a class C drug would also be reviewed this year.

Its harmful effects "were not necessarily appreciated" when it was designated as class C, he said.

He said it was "overdue for a more detailed review", which would take place "later this year as a high priority".

It followed a letter to the advisers from Home Secretary Theresa May, in which she asked for a review, saying "the evidence base on harms associated with ketamine misuse has grown".

"There is particular concern associated about ketamine misuse and irreversible bladder damage," She said.

The British Crime Survey showed that levels of ketamine use had doubled since 2006/07, from 0.3% to 0.6 per cent, with the drug particularly prevalent among 16 to 24-year-olds, Mrs May added.

Jeremy Todd, chief executive of the Family Lives charity, said: "Parents and inquisitive teenagers need to know the risks associated with drug-taking - whether 'legal' or illegal - and must be given advice on dealing with peer pressure."

It is not the first time Mrs Bercow's actions have raised eyebrows in Westminster.

She has also told her followers how she bought an illegal TV smart card in a pub and was criticised last year for appearing to capitalise on her husband's position as she posed for a photograph clad in just a bed sheet, with the House of Commons in the background.

Mrs Bercow also appeared in the first Celebrity Big Brother (CBB) after the show moved to its new home on Channel 5 and then in a spin-off, When Paddy Met Sally, with former housemate - and the show's eventual winner - Paddy Doherty.

She previously admitted her decision to appear on CBB caused ructions with her husband, but she insisted she was "very proud" about her appearance on the show despite his misgivings.

PA

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