With the aid of our old friend hindsight it seems obvious that any event bringing together Britain’s most litigious MP and the country’s most writ-happy photographer would be fraught with possibilities.
Yet all seemed to go smoothly when Gorgeous George Galloway – taking a break from hosting the mother of all talk shows – hired EPUK member David Hoffman – on leave from rucking with the Metropolitan Police – to photograph the christening of his one year old granddaughter Lola at St Stephen’s Chapel, Westminster. After a brief ceremony in the 12th Century chapel, the party retired across town to enjoy free curry and refreshment at Preem & Prithi in Brick lane, and when George’s agent Kevin Ovenden saw the day’s pictures he proclaimed them “superb”.
However relations broke down when Hoffman’s bill, for a modest £715, arrived on George’s desk. Displaying a sense of thrift more often associated with his homeland than himself, the man described on his website as the Frank Sinatra of politics refused to pay up, calling the bill “farcical” and Hoffman’s work “inadequate, expensive and lamentable”.
When a final demand for payment was returned with the words “see you in court” scrawled across it, Hoffman accepted Galloway’s invitation, and applied for a County Court summons – which Gorgeous has promised to “strongly contest”.
Displaying an affinity with Flickr’s DeleteMe critics, George complained of the pictures: “only 17 actually had Lola in them and five of those were blurred. At least six others were blurred…one was of an ashtray,” he fumed.
Hoffman responds: “The job itself was just a christening, but the pictures were fine. I don’t do social events, but George said he wanted publicity postcards. I made it clear the photos would be a PR job: he agreed to that and to the National Union of Journalists PR rates.”
But the County Court summons may be only the start of an entertaining legal feud: after the Respect MP was quoted in the press as claiming that Hoffman had “ruined my granddaughter’s christening”, the photographer reached for lawyers and was advised that he could sue for libel. “That is a remedy that is open to him,” responded Galloway, who ought to know.
Hoffman has pronounced himself “staggered by the arrogance of the man”, but Galloway apparently remains unrepentant, claiming, “He only produced one satisfactory picture.”
That would be the one of the ashtray then. And in another EPUK exclusive, here it is: