By Georgie Keate
A former Tory health minister has sparked a Twitter row by making a dubious comment about disabilities during the Paralympic opening ceremony.
Edwina Currie's post, "Italians are gorgeous even in wheelchairs. Love 'em", was retweeted instantly by hundreds of people and attracted much criticism from the site's users.
The ex-minister was forced to defend herself after she was accused of being patronising to the Italian team by saying she was paying them a compliment.
"Get off with the patronising. Look at them: they are gorgeous, and they're in wheelchairs. I bet they'd agree," she wrote in reply.
However, users described her words as "disgusting", "the most offensive thing on Twitter", "insensitive" and "ignorant".
Currie began to realise her mistake when she tweeted: "Will struggle to get PC expressions correct, but I mean well."
But one user replied: "Even in wheelchairs? Not sure you've 'got' this whole disability thing."
Others in the Twittersphere jumped on the connection between controversy caused by Currie in the Paralympic opening ceremony and that caused by Aidan Burley during the Olympic Games opening ceremony, when he said Danny Boyle's event was "leftie multicultural crap".
One user, @welsh_gas_doc tweeted: "Looks like @Edwina_Currie missed the memo from the Conservative HQ about posting on Twitter tonight".