From the Hitler Diaries to Vanessa Feltz: how British media have been hoaxed

this is a link

May 13, 2004 - The Daily Mirror

FAKE: Front page photographs purporting to show Iraq prisoners being abused - including a picture of a British soldier allegedly urinating on a hooded man - were exposed as fake following an investigation. The Royal Military Police found that the truck used in the photo had never been in Iraq. Armed forces minister Adam Ingram told the House of Commons that the photos were "categorically not taken in Iraq."

CONSEQUENCES: Piers Morgan not expected to resign. He says that Mr Ingram's statement "changes nothing".

2003 - HMS Splendid

FAKE: Sky News correspondent James Forlong described the firing of a cruise missile from Royal Navy submarine HMS Splendid in the Persian Gulf during the Iraq war in March. The report gave the impression the footage was filmed during the conflict, but it later emerged the pictures were taken from library footage.

CONSEQUENCES: Forlong, an award-winning reporter who had worked at Sky News for 10 years, lost his job as a result of the fake story and committed suicide in October. Sky was fined £50,000 by the TV regulator.

1999 - The Vanessa Show, BBC1

FAKE: A month after Vanessa Feltz's talkshow was launched, the BBC admitted four separate items had featured bogus guests. A pair of feuding sisters who featured on the programme last week were revealed to be strippers, and an actress appeared under a stage name as a woman who was being beaten by her husband - though in reality the woman had never been married. The Mirror led the campaign to expose the fakes.

CONSEQUENCES: The programme was axed a few months later, and a researcher for the show later won libel damages over an article alleging she knew the guests had been fake.

1998 - Daddy's Girl

FAKE: Channel 4 had to cancel a documentary about father-daughter relationships last night when it documentary after a 'father and daughter' turned out to be lovers Stuart Smith and Victoria Greetham in real life. The 19-year-old Ms Greetham from Huddersfield admitted she had hoaxed the makers of Daddy's Girl because she wanted to get on television.

1997 - Chickens

FAKE: Channel 4 broadcast a documentary about rent boys in Glasgow called Too Much Too Young: Chickens, which featured three scenes that were faked. 'Clients' of the boys, who were shown negotiating for sex, were in fact production staff or their friends.

CONSEQUENCES: In 1999 Channel 4 accused the production company responsible of "deliberate and organised deception". Watchdogs later imposed a £150,000 fine.

1996 - The Connection

FAKE: The Connection, an award-winning TV documentary produced by Carlton, purported to show a new heroin smuggling route from Colombia to Britain. It was full of faked scenes, including one in which a retired bank manager had been hired as a 'dealer'. The heroin packets swallowed by alleged mules were sweets.

CONSEQUENCES: In 1999 the programme was exposed as a fake and hit with a record £2m fine by TV watchdogs. The documentary team left the company.

1996 - the Diana and James Hewitt tape

FAKE: The Sun paid a six-figure sum for a tape featuring two lovers cavorting, alleging it depicted Princess Diana and her lover James Hewitt romping at Highgrove. The 80-second reel had come from a "smart American lawyer" acting on behalf of a group of soldiers led by a man known only as the Sergeant.

CONSEQUENCES: Princess Diana denied the pictures were of her, and Sun editor Stuart Higgins had to issue a grovelling apology, admitting he had fallen for "one of the most elaborate hoaxes of the decade".

1983 - the Hitler Diaries

FAKE: The Sunday Times and German magazine Stern eagerly announced the discovery of 62 volumes of Hitler's diaries, supposedly covering the entire history of the Third Reich, from 1933 to 1945. The Sunday Times' coverage of the story began on page one and ran to four inside pages, with photographs of Hitler, his mistress Eva Braun, and fellow Nazi leaders Goebbels, Himmler and Bormann, and extracts from the diaries themselves, all under the headline "world exclusive". The distinguished historian and Times director Lord Dacre had authenticated them as genuine.

CONSEQUENCES: Less than two weeks later they were exposed as the work of forger Konrad Kujau, who was jailed and died in 2000.

1972 - Martin Bormann

FAKE: The Daily Express foreign editor's Stewart Steven - later to become the editor of the London Evening Standard - revealed that Hitler's deputy, Martin Bormann, was alive and well and living in south America.

CONSEQUENCES: Six days after the story appeared, the Express discovered their picture of Bormann was, in fact, that of an Argentinian schoolteacher. Steven had been hoaxed by a Hungarian liar by the name of Farago, and soon left the paper to join the Daily Mail.

1970 - Howard Hughes biography

FAKE: As the reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes lay dying, a fraudster called Clifford Irving pitched a biography to US publishers McGraw Hill. The trouble was it was made up - and Irving had even forged a note purportedly from Hughes authorising him to write a book.

CONSEQUENCES: Hughes came out of hiding to prosecute Irving, who was jailed for 30 months, and later wrote a book about his scam.

1924 - the Zinoviev letter

FAKE: Four days before the October 1924 general election, under the headline "Moscow Orders To Our Reds", the Daily Mail published a letter supposedly written by Grigori Zinoviev, the president of the internal communist organisation Comintern, calling on British communists to mobilise "sympathetic forces" in the Labour party. Labour lost the election by a landslide.

CONSEQUENCES: Half a century later, the letter was revealed as an almost certain fake by the Sunday Times.

· To contact the MediaGuardian newsdesk email or phone 020 7239 9857

· If you are writing a comment for publication, please mark clearly "for publication".

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Vanessa Feltz reacts to allegations her phone was hacked

Vanessa Feltz reacts to allegations her phone was hacked by the News of the World

10, Jul, 2009 @7:40 AM

Vanessa Feltz returns to daytime television

After nearly a year in the wilderness, Vanessa Feltz will return to BBC daytime television in March with a new series to justify her £2m contract.

Janine Gibson, Media Correspondent

20, Jan, 2000 @4:31 PM

Article image
Vanessa Feltz speaks to Hannah Pool about her award winning radio show

Vanessa Feltz speaks to Hannah Pool about her Sony radio award winning show on BBC Radio London and her image as a 'survivor'

Hannah Pool

28, May, 2009 @10:47 AM

Article image
Feltz complains to PCC

8.30am: Vanessa Feltz has complained to the PCC about stories in the Mirror and Sunday Mirror, reports Jessica Hodgson.

Jessica Hodgson

19, Oct, 2001 @6:43 AM

Article image
Feltz complaint rejected by PCC

1.15pm: Vanessa Feltz has had a complaint to the press complaints commission about stories in the Sunday Mirror and Mirror involving her sex life thrown out. By Jessica Hodgson.

Jessica Hodgson

10, Jan, 2002 @1:24 PM

Feltz in celebrity privacy plea

Vanessa Feltz has asked the press to give celebrities the same 'basic human rights' as those not in the public eye. By Jessica Hodgson.

Jessica Hodgson

18, Feb, 2002 @10:28 AM

Article image
Vanessa Feltz to keep phone-in show after Radio 2 move
Presenter will continue in BBC London 94.9 slot alongside her new early breakfast role. By John Plunkett

John Plunkett

23, Nov, 2010 @7:40 AM

Article image
Vanessa Feltz announces she is to leave BBC radio shows
Host says she is leaving Radio 2 and BBC Radio London shows to catch up on a ‘decade’s deficit of beauty sleep’

Caroline Davies

28, Jul, 2022 @7:40 AM

Article image
Radio 2 confirms Vanessa Feltz as early breakfast show host
Presenter to join station in January to present 5am to 6.30am slot, and will continue to host phone-in on BBC London 94.9. By John Plunkett

John Plunkett

23, Nov, 2010 @9:24 AM

Article image
Radio 2 lines up Vanessa Feltz for early breakfast show
BBC London 94.9 presenter is frontrunner to take over from Sarah Kennedy, according to sources. By John Plunkett

John Plunkett

15, Nov, 2010 @4:56 PM