WHEN Simon Parkes and his wife were doing a spot of sales shopping in a town centre card shop after Christmas he was amazed to find a picture of himself looking back at him.
A photograph of Mr Parkes, taken over 10 years ago during his time as a councillor in Hackney, London, appears to have been used on the front of a birthday card where he is sitting next to a bear in the back of a car and has been dubbed “Sir Geoffrey”.
Mr Parkes recognises the car to be a Rolls Royce which was used to chauffer him on council business and when he was meeting senior politicians including the then prime minister Tony Blair and international ambassadors.
He said: “We went to buy cheap wrapping paper and I said to Jackie, ‘there is my picture on a birthday card’.
“I was so taken aback I bought the one card and went home.
“The next day I decided to go back to the shop and buy all of them.
“I asked the lady how many they had and she said seven – it is a good job they didn’t have hundreds.
“The shop assistant asked me if I was sure I wanted seven and I said I was on it but wasn’t happy about it.”
Mr Parkes, of Prospect Hill, went to see his solicitor – after his visit to the Card Factory in Baxtergate – who advised him to contact the card company, Paper House, directly.
He was told Paper House buys its images from a firm in Seattle and that they had used the image in good faith.
Mr Parkes said: “I e-mailed them the council picture and said I was in local politics and I can’t just be rubbed away.
“They got onto it and said the name on the picture wasn’t me but they couldn’t say the picture wasn’t me and that is as far as they are going.
“When I first saw the card I was surprised but I couldn’t be a successful politician and not have a sense of humour but I am just annoyed that whoever took the picture did not have my permission.
“I used to meet Tony Blair a lot or it could have been the American ambassador’s car.
“I think someone else was there and they photoshopped that person out, sat “fat Tim” in there and it is a great big joke but who have they airbrushed out because if it was a senior figure there could be a security issue.
“My main concern was where has it come from but it hasn’t been used for bad purposes but it is odd that the picture relates to a time when I was active in local politics and I am about to get involved again so I am taking it as a good sign.”
Mr Parkes was a Labour councillor in Hackney for six years in the 1990s and moved to Whitby in 1999.
He plans to stand as the Labour candidate in the May elections for the Streonshalh ward.
At the time of going to press, Paper House were unavailable for comment.