02 August 2023

Donelan accuses Labour MP of misleading public with ‘fake image’ of Sunak

02 August 2023

Science Secretary Michelle Donelan has accused a Labour MP of “misleading” the public after he shared on Twitter what she described as a “fake image” of the Prime Minister.

MP for Hull East Karl Turner posted a picture depicting Rishi Sunak pulling a pint at the Great British Beer Festival on Tuesday, seemingly being disapproved of by an onlooker.

The post quickly gained attention on the social media platform, with many users questioning its authenticity.

Retweeting Mr Turner’s post, Ms Donelan expressed her disapproval, stating that the sharing of such a “fake image” is “pretty desperate stuff by Labour”.

Mr Turner later said he had not realised the image was a fake.

Ms Donelan said: “In the era of deepfakes and digitally distorted images, it’s even more important to be able to have reliable sources of information you can trust.

“No elected member of Parliament should be misleading the public with fake images. This is pretty desperate stuff from Labour…”

The Science Secretary then retweeted the “original” photograph, which was posted on the Prime Minister’s account and did not feature the onlooker giving him a disapproving side-eye.

The picture also confirmed the pint of beer Mr Sunak had just pulled had been replaced with one featuring a thick, white, badly poured head of foam.

Mr Turner apologised for sharing the image, writing on Twitter: “My apologies for sharing what turns out to be a fake image of the PM. But can I just say that Rishi Sunak needs to stop telling deliberate lies to the nation.

“We desperately need a general election. Also my apologies for not attributing the image. I had no idea it was fake.”

The Labour MP also retweeted a video posted by a person claiming to have created the altered picture, in which he apologised for causing “a bit of trouble” and said “it was never my intention to deceive anyone”.

Labour chairman of the Commons Business and Trade Committee Darren Jones came to Mr Turner’s defence, saying: “The real question is: how can anyone know if a photo is a deepfake?

“I wouldn’t criticise Karl Turner for sharing a photo that looks real to me.

“What is your Department doing to tackle deep fake photos, especially in advance of the next election?

“Let’s have that discussion.”

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