@pippatips facing legal action from Pippa Middleton

Someone is sore about being outsold by their parody.

The creators of the @pippatips Twitter account are facing legal action from Pippa Middleton, according to the Independent. The account, which parodies Pippa Middleton's terrible party book Celebrate with helpful advice like "smoke can be sign of a new pope or that something is on fire", "beat stress by not worrying about stuff" and "remember to write 2013 instead of 2012 now it's no longer 2012", led to a book being published in June this year.

When One is Expecting: A Posh Person's Guide to Pregnancy and Parenting isn't doing too badly – in fact, it's outselling Pippa's own book on Amazon.co.uk, coming in at a respectable #961 in the charts compared to #3,370 for Celebrate – which might be what prompted Harbottle & Lewis to take action. According to the Indy, they've written to the book's publishers to demand that @pippatips be deleted.

At the time of writing, the account is still there – although it's been dormant of late, not tweeting since 14 June – and the new burst of publicity might do the book a world of good. Getting it back in the front of people's minds just as Babygeddon is about to hit… you couldn't get for a better Streisand Effect than that if you tried, could you?

Still, in case they get their wish, here are my favourite Pippa tips, archived for posterity:

Update:

Sad news: realPippa probably is outselling fakePippa by around 200 times, according to @iucounu who looked up the numbers on Bookscan, the main database for book sales in the UK. That means that fakePippa is getting more of her sales from Amazon, while realPippa is doing much better in physical bookshops. In a way, that's unsurprising: in bookstores, Celebrate isn't right next to a bunch of one-star reviews; and a book launched from a twitter account was always going to do well in an online bookshop.

But it does make realPippa's nastygram just that bit more vindictive.

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

Getty
Show Hide image

How tribunal fees silenced low-paid workers: “it was more than I earned in a month”

The government was forced to scrap them after losing a Supreme Court case.

How much of a barrier were employment tribunal fees to low-paid workers? Ask Elaine Janes. “Bringing up six children, I didn’t have £20 spare. Every penny was spent on my children – £250 to me would have been a lot of money. My priorities would have been keeping a roof over my head.”

That fee – £250 – is what the government has been charging a woman who wants to challenge their employer, as Janes did, to pay them the same as men of a similar skills category. As for the £950 to pay for the actual hearing? “That’s probably more than I earned a month.”

Janes did go to a tribunal, but only because she was supported by Unison, her trade union. She has won her claim, although the final compensation is still being worked out. But it’s not just about the money. “It’s about justice, really,” she says. “I think everybody should be paid equally. I don’t see why a man who is doing the equivalent job to what I was doing should earn two to three times more than I was.” She believes that by setting a fee of £950, the government “wouldn’t have even begun to understand” how much it disempowered low-paid workers.

She has a point. The Taylor Review on working practices noted the sharp decline in tribunal cases after fees were introduced in 2013, and that the claimant could pay £1,200 upfront in fees, only to have their case dismissed on a technical point of their employment status. “We believe that this is unfair,” the report said. It added: "There can be no doubt that the introduction of fees has resulted in a significant reduction in the number of cases brought."

Now, the government has been forced to concede. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of Unison’s argument that the government acted unlawfully in introducing the fees. The judges said fees were set so high, they had “a deterrent effect upon discrimination claims” and put off more genuine cases than the flimsy claims the government was trying to deter.

Shortly after the judgement, the Ministry of Justice said it would stop charging employment tribunal fees immediately and refund those who had paid. This bill could amount to £27m, according to Unison estimates. 

As for Janes, she hopes low-paid workers will feel more confident to challenge unfair work practices. “For people in the future it is good news,” she says. “It gives everybody the chance to make that claim.” 

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.