Page last updated at 13:05 GMT, Sunday, 22 November 2009

Gordon Brown and David Cameron sorry over photos

Gordon Brown and wife Sarah in Westminster Abbey's Field of Remembrance
Mr Brown made a late decision to visit the Field of Remembrance

Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Tory leader David Cameron have apologised after claims they used an Armistice Day service as a photo opportunity.

Officials at Westminster Abbey raised concerns that the leaders had failed to notify senior staff they were to be pictured in its Field of Remembrance.

Mr Cameron's photographer pictured him inspecting tributes on crosses. Mr Brown was also filmed there.

Mr Cameron said: "It shouldn't have happened... I want to make that clear."

Both leaders had been attending a service to mark the passing of Britain's last remaining World War I veterans.

Head of communications at the abbey, Duncan Jeffrey, told the BBC he had raised concerns with the leaders' spokesmen.

I think there is certainly no intention to cause offence. Remembrance is important and it is important that we all show respect
Yvette Cooper
Work and Pensions Secretary

Abbey staff could "do without distractions" on such an important day involving a live broadcast, he said.

Work and Pensions Secretary Yvette Cooper told the BBC's Politics Show the prime minister had apologised and "he was right to do so".

She said: "He and Sarah just wanted, as I think John Major had done and as Baroness Thatcher had done, to visit the Field of Remembrance.

"I think there is certainly no intention to cause offence. Remembrance is important and it is important that we all show respect."

Followed by photographers

And a Conservative party spokesman said the decision to take photographs was made "at the last minute" and that permission was sought from officials at the Field of Remembrance.

"We apologised for any misunderstanding and have given assurances that it won't happen again," he said.

On BBC One's Andrew Marr Show Mr Cameron said he spent a lot of time "being followed around by photographers" and said he regretted what had happened.

A Downing Street spokesman said: "Following the service at the abbey that morning, the prime minister expressed a desire to visit the Field of Remembrance, as an appropriate way to recognise those who have made the ultimate sacrifice while serving their country.

"We apologised for any inconvenience caused by this late change of the programme."



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