Cameron's photographer off public payroll
David Cameron performed a U-turn yesterday by accepting that two civil servants, including his official photographer, should be paid from Conservative Party rather than public funds.
Downing Street denied a damage-limitation exercise had been rushed out only minutes after he was told about the Royal Wedding, but the timing ensured that it was ignored by the live television networks as the Royal story dominated their programmes.
Westminster observers suspected Mr Cameron had taken a leaf out of Labour's book by choosing "a good day to bury bad news".
No 10 insiders insisted the decision to announce the retreat yesterday had been agreed in Downing Street as early as 8am yesterday – two and a half hours before Mr Cameron learned of Prince William's engagement.
Mr Cameron decided at the weekend to change the employment status of Andrew Parsons, his personal photographer, and Nicky Woodhouse, a film-maker and website producer.
On his return from his visit to China and South Korea, close allies briefed him that the controversy over the two ex-Tory staff being paid by taxpayers would continue to dog him and Mr Cameron decided to end the damaging row. "He decided that it sent the wrong message to the public at a difficult time," his spokesman said.
Mr Parsons and Ms Woodhouse, who were on £35,000 a year, have left the Civil Service and will not be replaced. They will only photograph and film Mr Cameron on party political occasions.
Some Whitehall officials believe they were sent back to Conservative Campaign Headquarters in an attempt to reduce media interest in eight other former Tory staffers who have joined the Civil Service since May. "The others can be hidden in backroom roles but Andrew Parsons was too visible," a Whitehall source said.
The controversy might have been avoided if Mr Parsons and Ms Woodhouse had been recruited as special advisers rather than civil servants. Other former Tory staffers now in Civil Service roles include Rishi Saha, who runs the No 10 website, and Anna-Maren Ashford, of the Government's behavioural insight team.
Michael Dugher, a Labour MP, said: "If it's wrong to charge taxpayers for Andrew Parsons or Nicky Woodhouse then why are so many other Conservative workers being hired via this sharp practice as so-called civil servants?"
- 1 The BBC has just done more to eradicate ‘terrorism’ than all our wars since 9/11
- 2 Dog thinks owner is drowning in lake, dives in and tries to pull him out
- 4 Chilling drone footage captures Auschwitz ahead of 70th anniversary of liberation
- 5 Phil Neville backtracks on Tomas Rosicky 'I'd smash him' comments from Match of the Day 2
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Greece elections: Greek PM Alexis Tsipras takes aim at 'neo-liberal' Europe as country gears up for prolonged austerity battle
Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary: Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
Pornhub star Mia Khalifa receives death threats after being ranked the site's top adult actress
Prince Philip set to be knighted by Australia: Celebrate by reading his greatest gaffes
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
Islamic history is full of free thinkers - but recent attempts to suppress critical thought are verging on the absurd
Leaked documents show Ukip leaders approve NHS privatisation once it becomes more 'acceptable to the electorate'
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the world's leading suppliers and manuf...
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: We require a teacher of Science in this com...
£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of waste ...
£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To promote and sell the Company...