THE Crayford shopper at the centre of a national checkout etiquette debate has hit back at her critics.

As reported by News Shopper, Jo Clarke was refused service by a Sainsbury’s checkout worker because she was talking on her mobile phone.

The supermarket apologised to 26-year-old, who was ordered to end her conversation by the woman staff member.

In a News Shopper poll 88 per cent of people so far believe the Stadium Way checkout assistant was right to speak up and Miss Clarke was the one being rude.

Today Miss Clarke, of Alfriston Close, told News Shopper: “I think everybody’s been guilty of it (using a mobile at a checkout) sometime in their life – that’s how it is.”

The property manager said: “I was in my surveying examinations yesterday so I’ve not seen any of the comments.”

This morning Nick Clegg waded into the debate which has got the nation talking.

She blasted: “I don’t care what Nick Clegg says – this is ridiculous.

“Why does he care?”

The Deputy Prime Minister expressed "sneaking sympathy" for the Sainsbury's checkout worker who initially refused to serve Miss Clarke.

He said he understood why Sainsbury’s did this, but he admitted that it drove him "round the bend" when people constantly had their "noses glued" in smartphones and iPads.

Mr Clegg was asked about the incident, during his weekly LBC radio phone-in.

"I strongly suspect I have spoken on the phone in a queue. I like to think I probably wouldn't do that at the front of a check-in queue," the Liberal Democrat leader replied.

"If the customer was not responding, then the check-out woman couldn't do her job and she's perfectly entitled to ask 'Well, do you want it or not?'.

"I have a sneaking sympathy for her. But I understand Sainsbury's have to be on the side of their customers."

Mr Clegg said he and wife Miriam try to avoid using phones and iPads at the dinner table with their three sons - although he conceded it was not a "rigid" rule.

"I have sat in numerous meetings where people don't look each other in the eye - they drop in and out of the conversation," he said.

"It drives me round the bend. I have an old-fashioned view that people are supposed to talk to each other. They don't - they just mumble at each other."