The Independent London Newspaper
19th May 2019

Royal Free to ban political photo-shoots ahead of General Election

    Lib Dem Maajid Nawaz, Tory Simon Marcus and Labour's Tulip Siddiq may find it hard to get a snap inside the Royal Free

    Published: 3 December, 2014

    POLITICIANS wanting to pose for photos drinking tea with nurses or landing a smacker on a newborn baby will not be allowed in the Royal Free in the build up to May’s General Election.

    A report to the Hampstead hospital’s board said that before the 2005 election requests from vote-seeking candidates had a “significant impact” on the NHS trust’s workload.

    Following this, a strategy will be in place stop the Pond Street hospital being “used for political ends” by allowing “no candidates” on hospital grounds after March 31. 

    Official “purdah” rules bar public institutions from offering favourable publicity to individual candidates six weeks before an election but the hospital wants to have a cast-iron strategy as “temperatures can become raised during election campaigns”.

    The report added: “A candidate could arrive unannounced at one of our hospitals and, told what the policy was, seek publicity for the fact that s/he had been ‘refused entry’ to a public building.”

    A Royal Free spokesman said: "This was a renewal of an existing policy put in place in 2009 in order to ensure the trust abides by Cabinet Office guidance to the civil service regarding the pre-election period known as 'purdah' by preventing it from being used for political ends.

    "Pre-election guidance states that a candidate’s request to visit a particular section of the trust may be granted only if the same opportunity is granted to all rival candidates, which could potentially cause significant disruption to the service.

    "A policy was therefore put in place by the hospital board to safeguard the trust’s political impartiality while minimising disruption and ensuring the smooth running of our hospital services."




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