Photographer warned Tory aide to put notes away before snapping details of secret Brexit strategy

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Photographer Steve Back has revealed he told a political aide to cover her notes outside Downing Street before snapping apparent details of the UK’s secret Brexit strategy.

Back, who runs the agency Political Pictures, was with around 50 journalists outside Downing Street yesterday waiting for the arrival of the Polish prime minister when he took the image – which features on a number of national newspaper front pages today.

The notebook was being carried by the chief of staff to Tory vice-chairman Mark Field MP.

They were walking from the Department for Exiting the European Union at Number 9 Downing Street to Number 10.

Back told Press Gazette: “We were all waiting for the Polish prime minister to turn up. I saw four people come out of Number 9 and recognised one of them as Mark Field MP.

“I was shouting out to to her to put the notes away. They were laughing and that’s what drew my attention to them. They took no notice of me at all.

“There are notices all over Downing Street reminding people to make sure their notes are covered up. I’ve been warning them about it for years.

“Cameron used to come out with his folder held up and he would wag his finger at me and smile.”

He said the group were only two cars’ width away from him. Black said he always shoots full-length photos and with this image he cropped it in to the area revealing the notes: “I couldn’t believe how clear it was.”

Despite the fact that the image has been widely used by the UK and European media, Back said he will not make a great deal of money from it. He said: “I feel like I’m running a charity to tell the truth.”

Among other things, the exposed page of notes says: “The UK is looking at a Canadian deal”, “We think it’s unlikely we’ll be offered single market” and “What is the model? Have our cake and eat it.”

Back picked up a British Journalism Award in 2012 for pictures published in the Daily Mirror which revealed then Tory minister Oliver Letwin was dumping documents in a park bin.

A Government spokesperson said: “These notes do not belong to a Government official or a special adviser. They do not reflect the Government’s position in relation to Brexit negotiations.”

 

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