Labour's Kate Hoey defends her 'Stalin-like purge' of rival from photograph
A Northern Ireland-born former Cabinet minister has been accused of "slightly Stalinist" behaviour after removing a rival from a photo - but failing to delete his legs.
Labour's Kate Hoey, who is seeking re-election in Vauxhall, was compared to Joe Stalin, the infamous 20th century Soviet leader famed for purging politcial rivals, when she posted a photo on her Twitter account of a London school event in which children asked politicians from different parties to sign a pledge to improve air quality.
Ms Hoey is pictured at the front of the stage making a speech while on the back row a pair of legs with no torso or head can be seen stood next to Liberal Democrat Sarah Olney.
George Turner, Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Vauxhall, was later identified as the owner of the legs, and branded the edited photo "farcical".
But Ms Hoey said she had done "nothing illegal" and her team decided to remove Mr Turner as he was wearing a Lib Dem rosette, adding: "We cropped it, apparently we left his legs in - maybe they were good-looking legs. I don't know."
Ms Hoey secured the London seat with a 12,708 majority over the Conservatives in 2015.
But her support for Brexit in an area which overwhelmingly backed Remain has led to the Lib Dems believing they have a chance of taking the seat.
Mr Turner (34) said: "I saw Kate tweeted and I thought it was a bit strange as I remembered standing on stage next to Sarah Olney. I was thinking: 'Did I move?' But all the time Kate spoke I was stood next to Sarah.
"On the photo my head and torso were deleted - in a slightly Stalinist way."
Ms Hoey hit back, saying: "I cannot believe the Liberal Democrats have got nothing else to do.
"The children organised this protest about pollution, each political party was asked to send a spokesperson, (shadow energy and climate change minister) Barry Gardiner was there, I was there as the local candidate.
"We didn't wear rosettes, George Turner and Sarah Olney turned up with rosettes."
Ms Hoey said her staff took photos of the event, adding: "There were no other candidates wearing rosettes except the Lib Dems. Why should I, on my personal Twitter, have them on?
"There's nothing illegal in what we did."