Cameron takes photographer off Civil Service payroll

Click to follow
Indy Politics

David Cameron's photographer and website producer are to be taken off the Civil Service payroll, it was disclosed today.

Government sources confirmed that Andrew Parsons, who was Mr Cameron's photographer when the Tories were in opposition, and Nicky Woodhouse, the woman behind his WebCameron website, would now be paid by the Conservative Party.

A row erupted when it was disclosed that Mr Parsons and Ms Woodhouse were being paid by the taxpayer at a time when the Civil Service was facing swingeing cuts.

It was originally argued that they would not just be working for the Prime Minister in Downing Street but would have a cross-departmental role across Whitehall.

However, Mr Cameron was said to have accepted that their appointments sent out the "wrong signal" at a difficult time for public services.

They will now carry what was described as a "restricted" political role working for Conservative headquarters.

Neither will be replaced in government.

Labour MP Michael Dugher said Mr Cameron had bowed to public pressure over Mr Parsons and Ms Woodhouse, who was employed by the Government as a film-maker.

"I welcome the Prime Minister bowing down to public pressure," he said.

"The Prime Minister should have known from the start that it's wrong to bill the taxpayer for his vanity photographer.

"But today's flip-flop raises more questions.

"If it's wrong to charge taxpayers for Andrew Parsons or Nicky Woodhouse then why are so many other Conservative party workers being hired via this sharp practice as so-called civil servants?"

Downing Street said Mr Parsons and Ms Woodhouse had originally been taken on as temporary civil servants has it had been thought to be an effective way of saving money.



"However, the Prime Minister has decided that it sent the wrong signal to the public at a difficult time. Therefore it has been agreed with them that they will be returning to Conservative Party HQ," Mr Cameron's official spokesman said.



Downing Street strongly denied suggestions that the announcement that Mr Parsons and Ms Woodhouse would no longer be paid by the taxpayer had been deliberately timed to ensure it was overshadowed by news of the royal engagement.



"It is simply not the case," the Prime Minister's official spokesman said.



The spokesman said that it had been clear at discussions in No 10 this morning that they would be making the announcement today about Mr Parsons and Ms Woodhouse.



It was only later, at around 10.30am, while Mr Cameron was chairing the weekly meeting of the Cabinet, that No 10 was informed of the engagement.



Jeremy Heyward, the Prime Minister's Permanent Secretary, left the meeting to take the call from the Palace and then returned to tell Mr Cameron the news.











Downing Street said Mr Parsons and Ms Woodhouse had originally been taken on as temporary civil servants has it had been thought to be an effective way of saving money.

"However, the Prime Minister has decided that it sent the wrong signal to the public at a difficult time. Therefore it has been agreed with them that they will be returning to Conservative Party HQ," Mr Cameron's official spokesman said.

Comments