Titian row after Tories’ Wiki amendment

By Alex Stevenson

The age of renaissance painter Titian has caused a minor political storm in Westminster – after the Conservatives admitted one of their staff had altered the artist’s entry on Wikipedia.

David Cameron rebuked the prime minister for his allegedly inaccurate use of Titian’s age during prime minister’s questions this lunchtime.

He claimed Titian had died at the age of 86 – when Gordon Brown had compared himself to Titian at 90 at the World Economic Forum in Davos earlier this month.

Conservative Central Office admitted an “over-eager” member of staff was responsible, the BBC reported.

Labour backbencher Peter Kilfoyle raised the issue in a point of order, asking: “Is it simply enough for the leader of the opposition’s staff simply to alter Wikipedia?”

The deputy leader of the House, Sylvia Heal, responded: “The right honourable gentleman is an experienced member of this House. He knows that it’s not a point of order for the chair but his comments are on the record.”

Downing Street remains relaxed about the issue, which is distracting (to a small extent) from the resignation of Sir James Crosby from the Financial Services Authority (FSA).

“It’s quite difficult to establish exactly what the facts are,” the prime minister’s spokesman said.

The row dragged on into shadow business secretary Kenneth Clark’s opposition day motion on the Royal Mail, when in an intervention Mr Kilfoyle said of Mr Clark: “The only artist he’s in danger of becoming is a con artist.”

He was forced to withdraw the remark by the deputy speaker.

Later, Mr Clark described the government’s Royal Mail amendment as an “obscure wriggle”. “If I were able to use the word con-artist about anyone in this chamber, the authors of this amendment would be very [appropriate],” he said, to laughter.