The Britain Times

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Right-wingers, Tory trolls, and bots circulated the false rumour that a mother staged a boy on the hospital floor

Very fascinating, read the letter that had been copied and reproduced. The youngster who was pictured on the floor by the media was actually put there by his mother, who then took pictures with her phone and uploaded them to media sources before he got back on his trolley, according to a good friend of mine who works as a senior nursing sister at Leeds Hospital.

A photo of a four-year-old forced to lie on a pile on a floor of a Leeds hospital as he awaits treatment has become emblematic of the issue of trust in the government and its intentions over the NHS in the last days of the election campaign.

Especially after Boris Johnson refused to look at a photo of the boy on a reporter’s phone and snatched it away while spouting soundbites at him, leading to accusations of treating the public and the NHS with callous contempt.

The Tories and their defenders in the press have sought to downplay and distract from the story, even concocting a fake story about Matt Hancock’s aide being punched when the Health Secretary ran the gamut of boos and jeers to visit the hospital and apologise to the family. The reporters given the story “by senior Conservative sources” were forced to apologise only when video evidence fortunately emerged that the Tory staffer walked into the hand of someone pointing.

A more sinister attempt to discredit the story then emerged on social media with similar techniques to the conspiracy theories and fake news egged on by bots that cast a sinister shadow over the US Presidential election, as well as crucial votes in this country.

On Monday, hundreds of duplicated messages appeared from various accounts on Facebook and Twitter, attempting to debunk the photo.

The copied and pasted message read: “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.”

The original message was attributed by social media users to a Facebook post by a member of the public. Jenner-Hepburn, a random Facebook user who appeared to have written one of the most widely-shared posts, has since told the Guardian she believes she was hacked and that she does not know anyone in Leeds.

After a reader contacted him about the claim, James Mitchinson, Johnston Press’ editorial director for Yorkshire, tweeted a letter he had sent her outlining the newspaper’s processes for verifying the story.

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