British MEP Nigel Farage tweeted a fake, doctored photo as he tried to hit out at pro-refugee campaigners.
The picture, distributed to his 1.2 million followers, showed a smiling woman at a march holding a sign reading: “My legs are open for refugees”.
Farage tweeted the picture and said that it was “an insult to the victims of sexual abuse in Cologne and rape in Malmo.”
But the former UKIP chief — who courted controversy with a refugee poster before the Brexit referendum — later deleted the tweet after it was revealed to be a fake.
He said in the Tweet “The photograph turns out to be fake news but the refugees welcome brigade need to think harder about what is happening.”
It later emerged the picture was taken in Canada in 2015.
The sign the woman was carrying had read: “My door is open for refugees” before it was changed to the version Farage tweeted.
Lasia Kretzel, the author of the original photo, said she had been aware there was a fake version circulating online but that it was being used by “everyday people, who, for a lack of a better word, are nobodies”.
“But today, it was different,” she wrote. “Today it wasn't just a regular, everyday person. Today it was the former leader of the UK Independence Party. Today it was a current broadcaster. It was a man who is still very much in the public eye and pulls the ears and eyes and thousands of people daily. His words carry weight and they fly far. And when those words carry the wrong information, it does a great disservice to all it lands upon.
“I'd like people to understand that my sharing this story is not about politics, immigration, shaming or any opinions I may or may not have for the people mentioned herein. It's about showing the damage misinformation can do, and its ability to spread like wildfire."
“In an era of instant information sharing, it's important that we check the information we are spreading to make sure it's factual and to own up to our mistakes when we falter. This is especially true for those who exert some level of influence or sway over others.”