The man behind the all-important shift of David Cameron’s parting from right to left has been awarded an MBE.
The prime minister faced fresh accusations of cronyism after it was revealed that his hairdresser, Lino Carbosiero, who was responsible for the change in style that saw the leader mocked in the Commons in 2010, appeared on the New Year Honours List last week.
The celebrity stylist – and former X Factor style director – was handed the prestigious honour for his "services to hairdressing".
"I was shocked and panicked," Carbosiero told the Evening Standard. "I didn’t expect the letter so I thought I hadn’t paid my tax."
He has been Cameron’s hairdresser for three years, allegedly bagging the Downing Street job under the orders of Cameron’s wife Samantha.
Carbosiero charges £90 a time for a men’s haircut and £150 for a woman’s. He counts Sir Paul McCartney, Madonna, Lily Allen and Zara Phillips among his other high-profile clients.
His secret? He's probably very good at cutting hair. Plus, his ability not to relay any sensitive information he hears from the chair goes some way to helping keep his diary overflowing with celebrity appointments, too.
"[The clients] have to trust you. I have been in situations where people have talked about things and I’ve not blinked an eyelid," he says. "I don’t blab and I’m respected for it."
Of course, this isn’t the first time a hairdresser has been honoured. The Queen gave her own stylist Ian Carmichael a royal nod in 2012, while the Duchess of Cornwall’s hairdresser Jo Hansford received an MBE in 2009.
But the news does come a week after a succession of senior Conservatives and supporters of the party were recognised in the New Year Honours list.
The roll call of awards for serving the nation included senior aides to the late Baroness Thatcher, long-serving MPs, Tory stalwarts in the Prime Minister’s Oxfordshire heartland, two Tory donors and a public relations chief who has holidayed with Mr Cameron.
It also featured the star of The Apprentice, Karren Brady, who is appointed CBE for services to entrepreneurship and encouraging women in business. She is being wooed by the Tories to become a MP in 2015 or to stand as Mayor of London the following year.
Labour MP John Mann said: "It’s inappropriate to use the honours system for political patronage. That’s what’s happening – everyone can see that. It is demeaning for David Cameron to use his position as Prime Minister like this."
The row threatened to overshadow a shift in the distribution of the awards, which saw the number of women receiving a gong outnumber men for the first time in the modern era of the honours system, which began in 1917 with the advent of the OBE. Of the 1,195 people named in the list, 51 per cent are women, compared to 40 years ago when the figure was just 17 per cent. As recently as 2004, the number of women receiving honours stood at barely a third of the total.
Other surprises in the list included the Queen’s gynaecologist, who came out of retirement to deliver Prince George in July 2013. And DJ Pete Tong, who was given an MBE.
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