Social media ‘debunk’ of Leeds hospital story disavowed accounts that posted it

The Leeds General Infirmary hospital (left) and health secretary Matt Hancock visiting (right). Phot

The Leeds General Infirmary hospital (left) and health secretary Matt Hancock visiting (right). Photograph: PA/Twitter. - Credit: Archant

Social media posts that appear to debunk the story of a boy left on a hospital floor have been disavowed by several people on whose accounts the message was posted.

A post originating on Facebook has been widely circulated making claims that the picture, of Jack Williment-Barr forced to sleep on the floor of a Leeds hospital, was faked.

However, the woman who owns the Facebook account has said that she was hacked, and told PA news that she had received death threats as a result of being named online as the source.

It came after the Yorkshire Evening Post first published the story, which was then picked up by the Daily Mirror, which was told by Williment-Barr's mother that she would not be voting Tory.

The prime minister was further embarrassed when an ITV reporter showed him a picture of the boy, which he attempted not to look at.

WATCH: Boris Johnson so desperate not to look at boy with flu, he pockets a reporter's phoneLater that day, a Facebook post was made to the account of the woman above saying: "Very interesting. A good friend of mine is a senior nursing sister at Leeds Hospital - the boy shown on the floor by the media was in fact put there by his mother who then took photos on her mobile phone and uploaded it to media outlets before he climbed back onto his trolley."


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This message was quickly shared on Facebook and copied and pasted in numerous tweets, including those by high profile comment writers such as the Telegraph's Allison Pearson.

Many of those tweets, all of which were identical and claimed to have "a good friend" who made this statement, have now been deleted.

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The spread of the post has caused the Yorkshire Evening Post to issue a full description of its verification processes for the story.

Both of the people The New European spoke to who shared the tweet said they did so in error.

A pro-Tory Twitter user, who prefers to remain anonymous, posted the wording in the tweet but said he does not have a friend who is a senior nursing sister as it states.

He told The New European his intention was to 'forward' the quote, which he he had seen reported by Pearson.

He said: "I didn't change 'I'm a former' to 'a former', which I did do on other tweets. It [was] a typo."

He told The New European that he had indicated that Pearson was the source of the tweet, which he felt was "a reputable one too for an established newspaper".

He has since deleted the tweet, but still has doubt about which is the true story after the Yorkshire Evening Post made its public statement.

"Given that it seems so much of what's written appears just at the right time (a coincidence!!!) how can anyone be 100% sure of anything," he said.

Twitter user Tim Curtis, who also posted the tweet's wording, said he had done so in the context of a conversation about fake news with a friend online, and copied and pasted the text as an example of misinformation.

As with the previous account, a screenshot of Curtis' tweet has been circulated, which he says he feels "gutted" about.

"I should never have direct quote tweeted without caveat," he said, adding: "These were schoolboy errors but in no way was this deliberate or an approval of the fake story."

Curtis, who says he is a Labour supporter, said: "I abhor and condemn the suggestion that the photo of Jack was faked in any way".

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