Sir Mick Jagger proved he still has the ability to cause controversy as he launched a thinly veiled attack on the Conservative Party last night, accusing it of using him as a "political football".
The 68-year-old Rolling Stones frontman had been due to appear at an event hosted by David Cameron at the Davos summit in Switzerland this week, but pulled out after concerns his political allegiances might be misconstrued.
Model Lily Cole, the inventor of the worldwide web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, and Boris Johnson are also on the guestlist for the event, which is aimed at promoting investment in Britain
In a statement released last night, Sir Mick said: "During my career I have always eschewed party politics and came to Davos as a guest, as I thought it would be stimulating.
"I have always been interested in economics and world events. I now find myself being used as a political football and there has been a lot of comments about my political allegiances which are inaccurate. He added: "I think it's best I decline the invitation to the key event and curtail my visit."
The withdrawal is embarrassing for the Government. Earlier, a Downing Street source had welcomed Sir Mick's involvement amid efforts to plug Britain in a year that will see the Olympics in London and the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.
A senior government source later said: "At no point was there ever any suggestion that Sir Mick was a Conservative. He understandably wishes to remain apolitical. This is not a political event. This is simply an event that promotes British creativity abroad."
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opinion, page 18