Rishi Sunak promo video: has UK prime minister used a Gary Glitter song - controversy explained and reaction

Music fans said the song for the new Prime Minister’s promotional video sounded like the sex offender’s hit Rock and Roll Part 2, however Downing Street denied this and claimed it was stock music.

New Prime MinisterRishi Sunak has already been caught up in several controversies, despite only being days into the job.

He’s copped flack for not attending the Cop27 climate summit, and has been criticised for reinstating Suella Braverman as Home Secretary only a week after she resigned from Liz Truss’ Cabinet for breaching the ministerial code. However Sunak would not have expected to be caught up in a row about former singer and convicted sex offender Gary Glitter.

But today, Downing Street was forced to deny music used in a promotional video of the new Prime Minister was a hit by the disgraced pop star, after people drew comparisons on social media.

Has Rishi Sunak used a Gary Glitter song?

The UK Prime Minister official Twitter account released a video captioned “We will work day in, day out to deliver for you”. It shows Sunak’s first speech as PM alongside his work behind the scenes, including a call with US President Joe Biden.

However, Twitter users began to question if the music used, with a very specific drum pattern, was from Glitter’s debut single Rock And Roll Part 2, which was first released in 1972. It went to number two in the UK official charts, and has been used in a number of films and TV shows including the Simpsons, Happy Gilmore and Meet the Fockers.

Simon Harris wrote: “Quick question guys. Why are you using a Gary Glitter track as your background music at the end of this video?”

While Lee Harvey commented: “Pretty sure the music used in this crap video is a Gary Glitter tune...”

And Jenny Landreth said: “Not sure I'd have gone with Gary Glitter's Rock and Roll Part 2 as the soundtrack, but you do you, Rishi.”

A Downing Street spokeswoman said: “I’ve been reliably informed it is stock music – it is certainly not Gary Glitter.”

Stock music is pre-recorded, royalty-free audio that can be purchased as part of a music library and does not require the user to directly seek permission from the composer or musician.

PA Media reported that a search on Apple-owned application Shazam, which suggests songs after short snippets of audio are played, threw up the possibility that the music could be from the track Tiger Beat from Tigerblood Jewel, who have been approached for comment.

Who is Gary Glitter?

Gary Glitter, real name Paul Gadd, was a glam rock singer from the 1970s and 80s. He became known for his extreme image of glitter suits, make-up and platform boots, and his energetic live performances.

Glitter has sold more than 20 million records, with three singles reaching number one. In 2015, sexual predator Glitter was jailed for 16 years for sexually abusing three schoolgirls following a three-week-long trial.

He sexually assaulted two girls, aged 12 and 13, after inviting them backstage to his dressing room. He also attempted to rape a girl under the age of 10 after having crept into her bed. The crimes happened between 1977 and 1980.

The 78-year-old was sentenced after being found guilty of one count of attempted rape, one count of unlawful sexual intercourse with a girl under 13, and four counts of indecent assault. Months after his conviction, the BBC announced it would not show his Top of the Pops performances.

British former pop star Gary Glitter arrived at court in 2015 when he was convicted of historic sexual offences. Credit: LEON NEAL/AFP via Getty ImagesBritish former pop star Gary Glitter arrived at court in 2015 when he was convicted of historic sexual offences. Credit: LEON NEAL/AFP via Getty Images
British former pop star Gary Glitter arrived at court in 2015 when he was convicted of historic sexual offences. Credit: LEON NEAL/AFP via Getty Images

Joker controversy

Rock and Roll Part 2 became famous in North America in the 70s and 80s for being played at sports matches. After an earlier conviction of Glitter, the NFL asked teams to stop using the song.

However in 2019, it appeared in Todd Phillips’s film Joker, starring Joaquin Phoenix, as the main character Arthur Fleck dances down a staircase. This scene was also used for the film’s poster.

This generated controversy, particular in the British media, with some suggestions that Glitter, by this point imprisoned, would received royalties. However, the Los Angeles Times reported that the disgraced singer had sold his rights to Universal Music.