When Norway’s Prime Minister, Jens Stoltenberg, dressed up as a taxi driver and took passengers around Oslo in an unusual election campaign stunt, it was always likely to grab headlines.
The video posted on YouTube showed the Labour premier chatting light-heartedly to passengers and listening attentively to their concerns, before going on to unmask himself amid hoots of laughter.
But today the ruse appeared to have backfired badly, when it emerged that several of his passengers had been paid to take part in the stunt.
“They were ordinary people who were asked if they wanted to take part in a video for the Labour Party,” admitted a party spokeswoman. Five of the passengers were paid around £55 each to board the PM’s taxi.
The spokeswoman insisted the passengers “knew nothing else except that they were going to be picked up in a taxi”.
She added: “Their spontaneity was real when they realised that the driver was the Prime Minister.”
Mr Stoltenberg said he had no idea that his passengers had been paid for their participation.
“I learned they were paid afterwards,” he said.
But opposition politicians reacted angrily. Bard Hoksrud, a spokesman for the Norwegian Progress Party, said he felt he had been “cheated” by the video.