A 'petty' row has broken out between City Hall's two biggest parties after an election leaflet for the Greens inadvertently featured a tiny photo showing a Labour councillor in the background.

The Labour Party lodged a complaint with election officials after its eagle-eyed member for Crome, Claire Kidman, spotted an image of herself in Charlie Caine's campaign leaflet for the Mile Cross ward.

The small photograph shows her dressed in Victorian costume standing behind Mr Caine when they were both performing in a musical play about Anglia Square.

Despite the obscure appearance and context, she claims her appearance on the leaflet could lead voters to think she is endorsing Mr Caine in the election and her party complained to the returning officer, who is presiding over next month's council vote.

Eastern Daily Press: The offending image: Mr Caine is pictured in the foreground, with Ms Kidman behind wearing a long Victorian-style coat.The offending image: Mr Caine is pictured in the foreground, with Ms Kidman behind wearing a long Victorian-style coat. (Image: The Common Lot)

The Greens, meanwhile, have agreed to stop distributing the leaflet, even though they had produced hundreds of them, and to reprint a new one without the offending image.

Other councillors have criticised the spat. Karen Davis, an Independent councillor, described it as a "storm in a teacup". 

Judith Lubbock, a Liberal Democrat, added: "It is a bit petty, but I'm sure the Greens would be petty too, if things were the other way round."

But Ms Kidman defended her reaction and said her appearance in the document had caused her upset.

"I look like I am both literally and metaphorically behind him," she said. "It was a bit of a shock. I don't endorse him in any way and this is a misrepresentation to voters."

Charlie Caine, a musician, launched his campaign for Mile Cross earlier this month.

The ward is currently represented by three Labour city councillors.

Eastern Daily Press: Claire Kidman with the campaign leafletClaire Kidman with the campaign leaflet (Image: Claire Kidman)

His leaflet said he would be a "councillor who gets things done" and includes 18 pictures of him litter picking, helping run community events and directing musical choirs, including 'Anglia Square: A Love Story', in an image which shows Ms Kidman in the background.

The musical production was put together by theatre group The Common Lot to celebrate the heritage of the area.

It told the story of the working men and women who have lived in the northern area of the city over the years.

The show was performed at venues across the city in 2019 and the photo in question - with the caption "actions speak louder than words" -  was taken during a parade that summer.

Ms Kidman did not realise she was in the leaflet until she was informed by someone who received a copy.

Eastern Daily Press: The inside of the leaflet distributed in Mile CrossThe inside of the leaflet distributed in Mile Cross (Image: Newsquest)READ MORE: Is this Britain's most fragile council? Authority introduces ‘red cards’ in meetings

It is one of 18 images featured inside the leaflet, with 19 other individuals also pictured alongside Mr Caine. 

The Green Party said it was initially thought that Ms Kidman had given her permission to be featured in the leaflet. However, she says she was never approached by Mr Caine. 

City Hall leader Mike Stonard, a Labour councillor, added: "We are flattered that the Greens are putting Labour councillors on their leaflets - it's not the first time they have taken credit for what we do."

"However, to say that they thought they had permission from councillor Kidman shows they are either lack integrity, are incompetent, or both."

Eastern Daily Press: Labour council leader Mike StonardLabour council leader Mike Stonard (Image: Brittany Woodman)

Alex Catt, deputy Green group leader at City Hall, said: "There are several people in costume in the background of this photograph and it had already been shared online.

"We apologise if this has made anyone uncomfortable and once this was brought to our attention we reprinted the leaflet with the photo removed."

The Labour Party referred the Greens to the returning officer, Louise Rawsthorne, who is responsible for overseeing the election. However, this complaint has been dismissed.

A council spokesman said: "The returning officer needs to remain impartial, and it would be for the person concerned to complain to the party who published the leaflet."