The mother of a schoolboy caught on camera making an obscene gesture in front of Nick Clegg said he was “in trouble” today.
Harry Payne raised his middle finger as the deputy prime minister made a speech to around 500 pupils at Southfields Academy school in south west London yesterday.
The teenager was today off school and was with his mother Nicola Payne at her workplace.
Dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt he looked contrite as she tried to explain his actions.
Ms Payne, a dentist’s receptionist, claimed the picture misrepresented her son, but admitted he was being punished.
She told the Standard: “That picture should not have been used – it misrepresented what was happening. We won’t be saying anything else about this. Harry is in enough trouble already. He is off school because of this.”
Friends of the teenager claimed Harry’s crude gesture was aimed at another pupil and not Nick Clegg.
One said: “Harry is a good lad really he was not gesturing at Clegg but another boy. I do not think he was aiming to be rude to Clegg.”
His friend, sitting next to Harry during the speech, also seemed unimpressed with the stunt.
But despite angering the school and his mother, it has proved a big hit with other pupils, who today labelled him a “legend”.
Becca McIlroy wrote on Twitter: “Harry is quality man!!! only southfields academy to do something like that.
Harry’s got me creasing.
“Harry your all over the news #quality #legend.”
The school classrooms and corridors of the school were used in the hit 2002 film starring Hugh Grant.
Harry had seemed distinctly unimpressed with Nick Clegg’s talk, appearing to virtually nod off at various points.
The deputy leader appeared not to notice his antics.
A spokesman for the school said the principal and headteacher were “not in today” and so could not comment.