No 10 defends taxpayer-funded photos of PM's dog playing in snow

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Spokesperson says photographer who took snaps of Dilyn is documenting work of government

Dilyn the dog pictured playing in the snow
The pictures of Dilyn playing in the snow appeared on No 10’s Flickr account. Photograph: Pippa Fowles/10 Downing Street/Crown Copyright/PA
The pictures of Dilyn playing in the snow appeared on No 10’s Flickr account. Photograph: Pippa Fowles/10 Downing Street/Crown Copyright/PA
Political editor

Last modified on Thu 11 Feb 2021 00.11 EST

Downing Street has defended the use of a taxpayer-funded photographer to take pictures of the prime minister’s dog, Dilyn, frolicking in the snow, saying their role is to document the work of the government.

A series of photos of Dilyn appeared on No 10’s Flickr account, alongside pictures of Priti Patel visiting a vaccination centre and Boris Johnson preparing for prime minister’s questions.

Asked whether taking snaps of the dog was an appropriate use of taxpayers’ money, the prime minister’s spokesperson said: “These photographers document the work of government, as well as the work inside No 10.”

He added that the photographer was “a cross-government resource” who would “support other government departments in their work, and other cabinet ministers and ministers in the work they’re undertaking”.

Responding to the suggestion the dog was part of the government, a Labour source said: “The government has made such a dog’s dinner of issues from the border response to kids’ education. Dilyn would be a marked improvement and probably waste less taxpayers’ cash.”

The spokesperson confirmed Johnson had three photographers on the government payroll: his special adviser and longtime photographer, Andy Parsons; a Ministry of Defence photographer on secondment in Downing Street; and a new recruit.

The government’s annual report on special advisers revealed that Parsons, who took a posed shot of Johnson signing his resignation letter when he left Theresa May’s cabinet, works part-time on a pay rate equivalent to a full-time salary of £100,000 a year.

Johnson’s spokesman said the carefully selected photos were made available for free. “We make these pictures available for editorial use, not just domestically but internationally as well.”

In October, the Cabinet Office advertised for a photographer to “promote the work of ministers and the wider government visually”.

The ad for the £60,000 a year post said: “No two days will ever be the same in this role. One day you may accompany a cabinet minister on an international visit, working closely [with] press officers across Whitehall to deliver a series of coordinated announcements, and the next you will be working in the Cabinet Office producing innovative visual content.”