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Last Updated: Monday, 29 October 2007, 19:23 GMT
MP e-mailed over fake photograph
James Purnell's image was added to the photograph later

MP James Purnell was told by e-mail his picture had been superimposed on to a photograph two days before it was sent to the press, the BBC has learned.

The MP was late for a photo call at Tameside General Hospital, turning up after three other MPs had to leave.

His photo was taken separately and added later, but he has said he did not agree to the images being merged.

E-mails obtained by the BBC show the Culture Secretary was told, but his spokesman said he had not seen it.

The e-mail, obtained by the BBC under the Freedom of Information Act, was sent by the hospital's chief executive Christine Green to Mr Purnell, two days before the pictures were forwarded to the press.

"I am pleased we were able to catch the photographer so that he could 'drop you into the photographs'", it read.

I did not ask for my photograph to be used in this way, nor did I authorise it
James Purnell

A spokesman from Mr Purnell's office said it was sent to a general e-mail address used by the constituency office.

He said: "This is the practice in many MPs' constituency offices and over the last three months around 1,750 have been sent to this address.

"The e-mails sent by the hospital were for information only and did not request any follow up action.

"James did not see these e-mails or the photo before the story broke on Friday 26th and the constituency office did not reply to either of these e-mails."

Mr Purnell, the MP for Stalybridge and Hyde, said in a statement: "I did not ask for my photograph to be used in this way, nor did I authorise it.

"I assumed that it would be clear that the photograph of me had been taken separately.

"These e-mails did not ask for my authorisation of the photo that was distributed, nor was any given. I did not see the e-mails or the photo until after it had been distributed."

Tameside Hospital has refused to comment.

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