Claims that Jeremy Corbyn stole, "not one but two" sandwiches meant for veterans attending a Battle of Britain 75th anniversary commemorations have been debunked by the provider of the free lunches.
A series of pictures have surfaced showing the Labour leader and his deputy, Tom Watson, leaving the event in St Paul's London, carrying Costa bags containing sandwiches.
Guido Fawkes reported that Corbyn took "not one but two free Costa coffee lunch bag". Watson appeared to have only picked up a single lunch.
The website went on to quote photographer Steve Back, of Political Pictures, who captured the apparent food-crime unfolding.
First time I've meet Corbyn at St Paul's for 75th battle for Britain, don't like the fact he took 2 free lunch bags for veterans Nasty— Political Pictures (@PoliticalPics) September 15, 2015
Jeremy Corbyn leaving St Pauls Battle of Britain ceremony takes 2 free lunch bags which were offered to Veteran's pic.twitter.com/wiQQqpWGDH— Political Pictures (@PoliticalPics) September 15, 2015ADVERTISEMENT
Back recalled to Guido Fawkes: “Jeremy and Watson went straight over, they went rushing towards where the free packs were, and dived in.
"He was obviously rushing off to the TUC and he grabbed two of these bags. They were for the veterans and the volunteers in the red jackets. Jeremy was looking inside them and picking up the sandwiches he wanted. Tom Watson only took one and so did everybody, all the veterans, but Jeremy took two, which I thought was really off.”
The Telegraph reported on the supposed scandal as part of a live blog on Corbyn speaking at the Trades Union Conference.
Under a sub-headline, "Corbyn's free sandwich: stolen from veterans or donated by Costa?" the website reported how Corbyn and Watson "took some free sandwiches from the nice people at Costa".
The Telegraph blog went on to say "a number of people on social media are now suggesting that the free lunches were being provided for veterans at the Battle of Britain commemorations earlier today". A number of tweets appeared to back up the claim:
Tbh Corbyn should resign immediately. How dare he take two, yes TWO, free lunches which were meant for veterans? #SandwichGate— Siddo Dwyer (@Siddo_D) September 15, 2015
It also contained some more measured reactions:
Cannot believe the media are kicking off about Corbyn “swiping veterans' sandwiches”. They’re really panicking now, aren’t they?— Emily Jay (@emilyjaywrites) September 15, 2015
Piers Morgan had a chuckle over the scandal:
This made me laugh out loud.September 15, 2015
A photographer covering the event for Getty Images told The Huffington Post UK that the "goodie bag" was given to Corbyn first and "then those photographers ran over in front of him".
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But it was left up to the sandwich providers, Costa, to debunk the stealing claims. A statement from Kerry Parkin, Costa's Head of CSR and Communications, said: "The bags were available to veterans and guests at the service".
“As a British business Costa are proud to support the Battle of Britain service at St Pauls with over 70 staff donating their time to provide veterans and guests with lunch and refreshment at the service.”
Sandwiches are political kryptonite, with a single mouthful of the two-slice lunch treat having the power to unravel an entire career, as Ed Miliband knows all too well.
A picture was taken of the former Labour leader struggling with a bacon sandwich in May 2014, and it continued to haunt him throughout his unsuccessful General Election campaign, with the opposition continually using it as an example of his general lack of competence. It even became a full page newspaper advertisement in the lead-up to the Labour leadership elections, serving as a warning to contenders about the power of a single picture.
Sandwich-gate comes as the Sun was on Tuesday widely rounded on for its front page story on Corbyn which was rubbished by experts and even its own source. The paper tried to smear Corbyn by branding the republican a "hypocrite" for kissing the Queen's hand to secure more than £6m of taxpayer funds.