Tory candidate in trouble over school photo

By Matthew West

A Conservative parliamentary candidate in the East Midlands has been accused of failing to take the complaints of parents seriously after he used a picture of their children without permission.

David Tredinnick, the incumbent Conservative candidate for Hinckley and Bosworth, sent out campaign leaflets which showed him posing for a photograph with a group of seven children from the Battling Brook primary school.

One parent, Claire Kettle, told the first thing she knew about the photo being used in Mr Tredinnick’s campaign literature was when another parent at the school approached her to ask if she was a Tory.

When Mrs Kettle asked why, her friend explained she had seen her son on a campaign leaflet for Mr Tredinnick.

Mrs Kettle said she had since spoken to the Tory candidate but he was dismissive of her concerns.

“He tried to tell me that the leaflets were not campaign leaflets. But both say vote David Tredinnick on them at the bottom so I don’t see how they aren’t,” she said.

“I don’t think he took me very seriously at all and clearly thought it would be enough to apologise on the phone. I’m shocked that it’s happened and I’m trying to establish who is at fault. He tried to tell me it was OK because the picture appeared in the local press and the photos are therefore in the public domain but it definitely did not go to the press.”

Two more children’s parents have since complained to the school saying they did not give permission for Mr Tredinnick to use images of their children for his campaign literature. The Battling Brook primary school has been forced to write to the remaining parents to make them aware of the situation and has also informed the local authority’s legal department.

The school has very strict rules around the taking of photographs of its pupils.

Parents are required to sign a form which states that they grant permission for photographs to be taken of their children only in circumstances such as school plays or for local press stories that are “for the benefit of the school”.

Mr Tredinnick was visiting the school as part of press publicity for a schools gardening scheme sponsored by the supermarket chain Morrisons. A photographer from the local paper, the Leicester Mercury, was due to attend the school to take photos which would then appear in the paper at a later date.

However, at the last minute the school was informed that the newspaper’s photographer was unable to attend. Mr Tredinnick’s wife then stepped in seemingly offering to take a number of photos instead, which she promised to send to the school in order to lessen the sense of disappointment among the pupils.

At no point did the school agree to the picture being used by Mr Tredinnick for his campaign literature.

In the letter to parents, seen by, headteacher Mr Williams states: “At no point was permission given to either Mr Tredinnick or the Conservative party to use these photographs in this way and as a result we are seeking advice from the legal department at County Hall.

“An email has also been sent to Mr Tredinnick’s office advising him of the school’s disappointment in this matter. I am currently awaiting a response from Mr Tredinnick’s office regarding this matter and as and when I receive this, I will inform you of the outcome. Please accept our apologies for this matter.

“The school does not support nor endorse any political parties and we are not affiliated to any party,”

David Tredinnick is one of the longest serving MPs in parliament, representing Hinkley & Bosworth since 1987. He has a notional majority of 5,319.

He was once a parliamentary private secretary in the 1990s but was forced to resign, and was suspended for 20 days, after he was found to have accepted a £1,000 bribe to ask questions in parliament, in the cash for questions affair.

Mt Tredinnick’s office was approached by for a comment but he has yet to respond.