A tabloid journalist working for the UK's Daily Star 'newspaper' has been caught out by a spoof Photoshopped image claiming to be of a Grand Theft Auto game based on gunman Raoul Moat.
It wouldn't have taken hack Jerry Lawton long to work out the amateurishly edited image was a fake before reporting news that a book, Hollywood movie and computer game were all in development - but then, where's the fun in that?
The article started:
FURY erupted last night over plans for a Raoul Moat book, movie and game… before the man he killed has even been laid to rest.
A book on the crazed killer is due out in weeks and film companies are lining up bids for the rights.
And last night gaming websites showed the cover of Grand Theft Auto Rothbury – a version of the XBox hit Grand Theft Auto.
Lawton's article berated the gaming industry for supposedly immortalising a killer with the improbably titled GTA Rothbury , a game based on his week-long shooting spree.
In the piece, Lawton quotes the grandmother of Moat's ex-girlfriend Samantha Stobbart, whose partner was killed by the gunman, saying of the non-existent game: It is sick - it's blood money. The game is beyond belief.
The Daily Star has been forced to apologise for its false story, carried about the creation of a video game entitled Grand Theft Auto Rothbury .
The paper has also had to admit that the publication of its article was due to its own journalistic failings.
It has now published a complete retraction of its claim in a lengthy apology. Here is the full statement:
On 21 July we published an article claiming that the video games company Rockstar Games were planning to release a version of their popular Grand Theft Auto video games series titled Grand Theft Auto Rothbury .
We also published what we claimed would be the cover of this game, solicited comments from a family member impacted by the recent tragedy and criticised Rockstar Games for their alleged plans.
We made no attempt to check the accuracy of the story before publication and did not contact Rockstar Games prior to publishing the story. We also did not question why a best-selling and critically acclaimed fictional games
series would choose to base one of their most popular games on this horrifying real crime event.
It is now accepted that there were never any plans by Rockstar Games to publish such a game and that the story was false. We apologise for publishing the story using a mock-up of the game cover, our own comments on the
matter and soliciting critical comments from a grieving family member.
We unreservedly apologise to Rockstar Games and we have undertaken not to repeat the claims again. We have also agreed to pay them a substantial amount in damages which they are donating to charity.