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Dancer ‘Fatima’ encouraged to retrain in cyber security is Desiree from Atlanta

Advertisements promoting the government's Cyber First scheme - Credit: QA

It has emerged the photographer behind an image of a ballerina encouraged to retrain in cyber security by the UK government was not aware the picture was being used in a “crass” advert.

The advert cased controversy at the start of the week after the government was accused of undervaluing the arts by suggesting a dancer’s future was in digital.

But it has created further outrage after a journalist sourced the picture to Atlanta in America, with “Fatima” the dancer not even being a UK resident.

“For those worried about Fatima she’s almost certainly not called Fatima and almost certainly will never work in cyber. The image is from a US photographer based in Atlanta, Georgia,” she said Channel 4’s Ciaran Jenkins.

The photographer – Krys Alex – had uploaded the picture to Instagram years before, with the original image showing a second dancer. It included the caption “Whatever you are, own it.”

It later transpired that the dancer was called Desiree Kelley, with the dancer renamed by the designers.

The snapper said they had been unaware of the picture being used by Whitehall, and said they had not given permission for the photograph to be used.

The issue was raised in parliament after Labour MP Kevin Brennan questioned culture secretary on the advert – which has been since taken offline.

He told Dowden: “It turns out Fatima is not Fatima at all. She is apparently Desiree who is from a ballet school from Atlanta in Georgia in the USA. Could you at least promise if the government is going to put ‘crass adverts’ out – as you describe it – they at least feature real British artists and they actually get paid for use of their images?”

The minister dodged the question to pay tribute to the arts industry, insisting he had made his views clear on the visual.

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