| 11.7°C Dublin

Bishop who wed Beckhams target for Twitter trolls

THE Church of Ireland bishop who married David and Victoria Beckham has been subjected to cyberbullying.

The Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, Dr Paul Colton, has cancelled his Twitter account after he came under attack.

Dr Colton (52) described the attacks as "depressing" but said he would not comment because he wanted to "ponder" the issue.

His departure from the social media site provoked a storm of protest from 'followers' who considered the Bishop's daily contributions to be intelligent, insightful and humourous.

His decision to end his Twitter page is understood to have followed a succession of tweets about the Christian churches in general which were both upsetting and denigrating.

It was unclear whether the tweets, which now cannot be accessed, were linked to the abortion debate.

Bishop Colton, a married dad of twins who has been Bishop of Cork for 14 years, was nicknamed "Purple Spice" after he married then-Man Utd star David Beckham and Spice Girls singer Victoria Adams in July, 1999, at Luttrellstown Castle near Dublin.

Bishop Colton, an avid supporter of Manchester United, attracted 3,000 Twitter followers on his account '@b2dac'.

However, he is understood to have become increasingly concerned at the nature of the posts he received, particularly from 'trolls' -- anonymous social media site users.

On Wednesday morning he tweeted: "Depressing and infuriating to wake up to such venomous generalisations and hatred about religion and clergy on my Twitter timeline".

His Twitter followers have launched an impromptu campaign to get him to reinstate his account. Under the hash tag '#bringb2dacback', a campaign has started and thousands of people have tweeted their support for Bishop Colton.

One described Bishop Colton as insightful and inclusive and wrote they hoped his leaving "was a bad dream, he truly is one of the good guys".

Restaurant critic Tom Doorley summed up the mood on Twitter: "Shocked to hear that @b2dac Bishop Paul Colton has been forced, through abuse, to leave Twitter. All because of a few vile people."

The most recent attack by trolls comes in the wake of the tragic death of Junior Minister Shane McEntee after apparent social media abuse.

Erin Gallagher (13) from Ballybofey, Co Donegal, died by suicide last year just 24 hours after she warned cyber bullies on Ask.Fm to stop bullying her.

Another teen, Ciara Pugsley (15), took her own life in Dromahair, Co Leitrim, after being bombarded with hate messages on the same site.

hnews@herald.ie