Tory shame over election flyer picture gaffe

PHOTO. KEVIN McGUINNESS. Labour supporter Bill Etherington appeared on a Tory leaflet
PHOTO. KEVIN McGUINNESS. Labour supporter Bill Etherington appeared on a Tory leaflet
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For 58 long years, William Etherington has banged the drum for his beloved Labour party.

The proud 80-year-old is red though and through – so imagine his horror when he saw his face emblazoned on an election campaign leaflet for the Conservatives.

William, of Glenluce Drive, Fishwick, had been invited to Galloway’s Society for the Blind, Howick Park Avenue, Penwortham, in February to discuss problems facing the blind and partially sighted.

Tory parliamentary candidate for Preston Nerissa Warner-O’Neill was also there – and Mr Etherington was snapped talking to her in the charity’s resource room.

To his astonishment, the photograph was used on the leaflet which was delivered to homes across the city.

The father-of-one, who is registered blind, said: “The leaflet came through my door. It was my sister who rang me and said, what are you doing on a Conservative party leaflet?

“That’s the first I knew of it. I was very angry. There’s absolutely no way that anybody could get permission out of me to use my picture on a Conservative leaflet. Nobody told me the photograph had been taken and nobody asked me if it could be used for political or other purposes.”

Sitting MP Mark Hendrick, Lib Dem Mark Jewell, UKIP’s Richard Muirhead, Krishnamurty Tayya from the Jury Team, and Conservative Mrs Warner-O’Neil are standing.

Mr Etherington, a retired senior trade union official, said: “There should be a public apology. Everybody in the constituency has got the leaflet and a lot of people in this town know me.”

Mrs Warner-O’Neill said: “Following a visit to Galloway’s I received confirmation from the event photographer that everyone present at the visit was happy to have their images used and reproduced in both press releases and election literature. I would not have used the photograph had I not received these assurances and I apologise for any offence caused.”

Labour councillor and deputy mayor John Swindells, agent to Mark Hendrick, said: “We always make sure we get written permission before we put anybody in our leaflets.”

Lib Dem candidate Mark Jewell said: “If it’s a public event then I do not believe there’s any law against it.

“It’s a good idea if you are going to use material like that to just check that no one has any objections.”

The UKIP and Jury Team candidates could not be reached for comment.