Ed Miliband attacks David Cameron over 'vanity staff'

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Indy Politics

David Cameron has been mocked by Labour after he added two "vanity staff" – his personal photographer and personal film-maker – to the public payroll at the moment that the state sector faces heavy job losses.

In raucous Commons scenes, the Labour leader, Ed Miliband, questioned whether the appointments were "really a wise judgement, when he [David Cameron] is telling everybody to tighten their belts".

Andrew Parsons, who was hired by the Conservative Party last year to photograph Mr Cameron, has moved to the Cabinet Office on an estimated salary of £35,000 a year.

Nicky Woodhouse, the woman behind Mr Cameron's personal video blog, has also been given a civil service post as the Government's official film-maker on a similar rate of pay.

The appointments were both made without the posts being advertised because they were short-term contracts.

They come to light days after George Osborne, the Chancellor, announced austerity measures that will lead to almost 500,000 public sector redundancies.

Mr Cameron retorted that his government was reducing Labour's annual £500m bill for communications by two-thirds.

Downing Street sources insisted that the appointments would ultimately save money for the taxpayer as they would end the need to hire expensive freelance photographers and film crews.

Both Mr Parsons and Ms Woodhouse would work across all departments, documenting the work of dozens of ministers, they said.

Two Labour MPs wrote to Sir Gus O'Donnell, the Cabinet Secretary, yesterday questioning whether proper procedures had been followed in making the appointments.

Michael Dugher, the MP for Barnsley East, said: "Why is it that when the Government is putting half a million people out of work, Mr Cameron feels the need to recruit someone previously employed by the Conservative Party to be his personal photographer?"

Tory sources pointed out that Gordon Brown hired a former television producer to improve his appearance in photographs and on film.

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