Prime Minister David Cameron slammed by Islington politicians over ‘gaffe’

PUBLISHED: 17:08 21 April 2011 | UPDATED: 17:22 21 April 2011

Prime Minister David Cameron has been criticised over his mistake

Prime Minister David Cameron has been criticised over his mistake

PA Wire/Press Association Images

PRIME Minister David Cameron has been accused of lying by the leader of Islington Council – after he got his facts and figures wrong in an attack on the borough’s administration.

In a speech made yesterday, Cameron blundered when he blasted Islington Council’s Labour leaders for slashing services while not lifting a finger on the salary of its chief executive – despite the fact that the council has already cut the chief executive’s salary by £50,000 and is implementing cuts forced upon it by Cameron’s government.

During the speech, the Prime Minister said: “What about Labour-run Islington, which is slashing frontline jobs and children’s services, but hasn’t put a finger on the chief executive’s salary of £220,000?”

The borough’s Labour leaders and two Labour MPs were outraged at the comments.

Jeremy Corbyn, MP for Islington North, and Emily Thornberry, MP for Islington South and Finsbury, have both sent letters to Number 10. Mr Corbyn referred to Cameron’s “gaffe”, and said: “I recommend you check your facts before going public with criticisms.”

Councillor Catherine West, leader of Islington Council, said: “What David Cameron has said is a lie – we have cut £50,000 from our chief executive’s salary. As a PR man by trade Mr Cameron should understand the importance of getting his facts right.

“Unlike Conservative controlled Bromley Council, Islington is not closing a single children’s centre, even though our percentage cut is more than twice the size of theirs.

“What David Cameron said is simply wrong and he should apologise to Islington for misleading its residents.”

Lesley Seary will take the reins as Islington Council’s new chief executive in June, on £160,000. Current incumbent John Foster, who is seeing out his notice period, retires in May – and in fact earns £210,000 rather than £220,000.

Islington will have one of London’s lowest-paid chiefs within months of passing its budget, when councillors had to make £52million of cuts forced upon them by the Government.

A spokesman for Number 10 claimed the facts were not wrong because the wage cut only comes in with the new chief executive - and argued this did not amount to “putting a finger” on the salary.

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