'It's clearly misleading!': Deputy PM calls for Keir Starmer to step in over image of Rishi Sunak holding fake pint

3 August 2023, 08:38 | Updated: 3 August 2023, 09:23

Nick questions Oliver Dowden on his reaction to doctored image of Rishi Sunak

Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

The Deputy Prime Minister has "totally condemned" a Labour MP who shared a doctored image of Rishi Sunak holding a poorly-poured pint.

Speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast, Mr Dowden said sharing such an image is "not conducive to a healthy democracy".

"I’m afraid this kind of action does cross a line into what pretty much looks like a fake image and I think it’s totally unacceptable and I think that the Labour the lead should disown this and Labour MPs that have retweeted this or shared this should delete the image.

"It is clearly misleading. It's not a sort of attack ad that we’re well used to, it’s taking an image and subtly changing it in a way that the average viewing looking on Twitter would not realise that this was a doctored image and this is not conducive to a healthy democracy. I totally condemn it."

Karl Turner, Labour MP for East Hull, shared the image of Mr Sunak pouring a pint at the Great British Beer festival, alongside a woman looking on disapprovingly.

A number of people used Mr Turner's post to criticise the prime minister's pint-pouring skills, though it has since emerged the image shared had been doctored.

The real image shows Mr Sunak poured a pint with a more reasonable head. The woman in the background had also been altered.

Rishi Sunak at the Great British Beer festival
Rishi Sunak at the Great British Beer festival. Picture: LBC/Downing St

The Secretary of State for Science Michele Donelan led calls for Mr Turner to remove the image, calling it "desperate stuff from Labour".

"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," she wrote.

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"No elected member of parliament should be misleading the public with fake images. This is pretty desperate stuff from Labour."

Mr Turner has since apologised for posting the image, telling Sky he was "sorry for inadvertently sharing an image which apparently turns out to have been fake".

"How on earth could I possibly know that the image wasn't real?," he added.

"It certainly looks real and struck me exactly as what you would expect of the PM."

Mr Turner has not deleted his post.

Fellow Labour MP Darren Jones has also jumped to his defence, echoing Mr Turner's defence that he could not have known it was fake.

"The real question is: how can anyone know if a photo is a deepfake?" he said.

"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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