The hounding of Baskerville

Department for Transport official investigated over anti-government comments on Twitter

She once warned other internet users: "Don't be a fecken muppet when posting/tweeting something."

But middle-ranking civil servant Sarah Baskerville does not seem to have heeded her own advice and was last night fearing for her job at the Department for Transport over a series of online comments criticising government policy, admitting to being hungover at work and appearing to support Labour MPs.

There are also repeated references on the social networking website Twitter to being drunk and getting away from the office in Westminster for "pints" and red wine.

Ms Baskerville, a team leader in corporate finance systems and reporting solutions, claims she is being "singled out", "attacked" and "targeted" for the remarks posted on Twitter, though Whitehall officials insisted all staff must abide by the civil service code, particularly governing political impartiality.

In several posts, Ms Baskerville, styled as "Baskers", suggests unhappiness at government policy. Yesterday morning, as the row over the remarks was brewing, she repeated someone else's tweet asking "How much more can we take from this Govt" over plans for McDonald's and PepsiCo to help write health policy.

She also appeared to endorse comments about George W Bush, which said: "So waterboarding is ok to save lives but you could do fuck all to save (poor black) lives in New Orleans?! Fuck off." And she repeated a message that highlighted a banner at last week's student march reading "Nick Clegg sold out faster than Muse" while repeating criticism from a Labour MP of "major spin" from Downing Street.

But her most direct condemnation came a week ago, as papers including The Independent on Sunday reported on government plans to force the unemployed to work for free for four weeks or risk losing their benefits. A "shocked" Ms Baskerville repeatedly referred to "workhouses for the poor" and, challenged about her objection to people working for their dole, replied: "Because it's forced and akin to slave labour. Where does the humiliation stop? Why focus punishment on these sections of society."

On her blog, she likens chocolate cake crumbs on her desk to "all we have to look forward to in this new era of fiscal austerity and the impending 'Slasher' Spending Review".

"I'm being squeezed," she wrote. "Cut head count. Lose contract staff. Reduce your cost. Stop travelling. Don't print out in colour. Don't print double-sided. Don't order any stationery (should I tell them my stapler is broke?)."

The self-confessed Doctor Who fan also gives a running commentary on a course in change management, claiming it will lead to "a bit of paper... to prove I can do what I'm already doing". She also brands the tutor "shouty" and "mental". "Oooo... Frustrations, anxiety running high in our course," she wrote.

While she gives a rare insight into life inside a Whitehall department, ministers are unlikely to be amused. Online Ms Baskerville admitted: "Work will be 'interesting' on Monday." A spokesman for the DfT added: "We cannot discuss individual cases but we expect all civil servants to abide by the civil service code."

A spokesman for the PCS union said: "She has not criticised the civil service. In the current climate, it is no surprise to us that people who are as dedicated as her feel passionately about defending the work they do and the services they provide."

As online friends rallied to her defence, Ms Baskerville blocked her tweets to the public. It may be too late.

Virtual comments

Sarah Baskerville (@Baskers) Scottish and sober... sometimes! I'm a civil servant, but this is my personal account & it's my own personal views, not the depts.

'Been wheeling and dealing, trying to rebuild my team as all my staff are leaving'

'Struggling with a red wine induced headache'@ Department for Transport

'Had to get the pliers out to open the bottle of wine – the top was stuck fast!' #nationaldisaster

'Forgot to change my clocks... might keep it that way, so I'll be early for once'

'Tutor is mental... believes "change management" will change the world. He's too damn shouty'

'I can't understand why people voted for this. Why are certain sections of society being targeted?'

A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
Arts and Entertainment
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, Graduate, SQL, VBA)

£45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, ...

Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Perl, Bash, SQL)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Per...

C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB6, WinForms)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB...

C# Developer (Genetic Algorithms, .NET 4.5, TDD, SQL, AI)

£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home