A senior Labour MP has been accused of “pretty desperate stuff” after sharing a doctored image of Rishi Sunak.
Kingston upon Hull East MP Karl Turner posted the picture of the Prime Minister pulling a pint during a visit to the Great British Beer Festival yesterday.
But the snap, which has been widely circulated on Twitter, has been edited to show the bartender in the background pulling a face and the pint to have a large head on it.
Science, Innovation and Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan, who is responsible for tackling online abuses, criticised the Labour MP for tweeting the photo.
The Cabinet minister said: “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.
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“No elected member of parliament should be misleading the public with fake images. This is pretty desperate stuff from Labour…”
Conservative Party deputy chairman Lee Anderson said it was “gutter politics”.
He said: “How can anyone be so daft? Well ask Karl Turner as he is one of the MPs sharing these fake images.
“More divisive politics from clueless Karl who btw I had never heard of until a few weeks ago.”
Senior Tory MP Alicia Kearns added: “The sharing of a doctored image by so many Labour MPs, who by now know it’s fake yet haven’t deleted it, is demeaning of politics.”
But Labour MP Darren Jones hit back in a post retweeted by Mr Turner, arguing there was no way of telling the photo had been edited.
Mr Jones said: “The real question is: how can anyone know if a photo is a deepfake?
“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.”
Mr Sunak poured a pint of Black Dub stout at the stall of the Wensleydale brewery from his North Yorkshire constituency at the festival in west London’s Olympia on Tuesday.
The Prime Minister, who is teetotal, was promoting a post-Brexit shake-up of the alcohol duty regime.
First set out by Mr Sunak when he was chancellor in 2021, the new system aims to encourage drinkers to cut back by taxing all alcohol based on its strength, rather than the previous categories of wine, beer, spirits, and ciders.
He described the overhaul as “the most radical simplification of alcohol duties for over 140 years”, enabled by Britain’s exit from the EU.
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But the move has had a mixed reaction as it will increase tax on a range of drinks including wine, vodka and canned beer.
The Prime Minister was heckled by a publican as he pulled the pint during the visit to the festival.
Rudi Keyser, a 46-year-old who runs a chain pub in Wimbledon, said: “Prime Minister, oh the irony that you’re raising alcohol duty on the day that you’re pulling a pint.”
Mr Turner was contacted for comment.
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