Philippa Stroud, the former Conservative Parliamentary candidate who allegedly tried to “cure” gay people of demonic possession has been appointed as a special advisor to work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith.

Mrs Stroud failed to win the Sutton and Cheam seat from the Liberal Democrats at the general election earlier this month. The election was held just days after The Observer claimed she had founded two churches that helped people who believed their homosexuality was caused by demonic possession and that it could be overcome through prayer.

The newspaper quoted testimony from a number of people who had claimed they had been helped by the churches and one person who worked for one of the churches.

As yet, Mrs Stroud has not answered the newspaper’s claims that she believes homosexuality is caused by demonic possession.

Instead, she has only said that she does not believe being gay is an illness, an allegation that was never levelled against her.

She joins the Department for Work and Pensions as special advisor to new work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith. She previously ran the Centre for Social Justice, a right of centre think tank founded by the former Conservative Party leader.