David Cameron has become at least the fifth senior public figure to have private documents revealed by news photographers since May 2008. The prime minister was photographed holding a copy of his defence review speech which appeared to suggest that the budget has been cut by 6% less than expected. The repetitive nature of the error is such that one wonders whether the “gaffe” was a deliberate ruse to leak a more favourable headline figure. Indeed, snapper Steve Back has warned government press officers:

“I have told Downing Street before that the quality of lenses and digital lenses means that we can read ministerial papers.”

Scrapbook has had a look back through the archives:

Photo gaffe no. 1 (May 2008): Caroline Flint reveals government fears about the housing market. The then minister for housing decided to stroll in front of the press pack with figures projecting that UK house prices could fall “at best” by 5-10%. The note from officials stated grimly “We can’t know how bad it will get.”

Photo gaffe no. 2 (April 2009): Britain’s most senior couter-terrorism officer decides to share a highly confidential memo with the world’s press. By far the worst error of its kind in the UK, Bob Quick subsequently resigned after the blunder forced police to move forward with an operation prematurely.

Photo gaffe no. 3 (September 2010): The BBC was forced to defend its impartiality after director general Mark Thompson revealed details of a private meeting between a senior Auntie official and Andy Coulson. The note laid bare discussions with Number 10 about a series of programmes on government cuts.

Photo gaffe no. 4 (October 2010): Danny Alexander is caught reading a briefing for the Comprehensive Spending Review including “lines to take” for ministers. The two pages disclosed show the coalition expects 490,000 public sector jobs to be shed by 2014-15.

Photo gaffe no. 5 (October 2010): David Cameron gives us a sneak peak of his Commons address for this afternoon.

Have we missed any other photographic cock-ups?

Let us know in the comments or on Twitter.

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