ITV inadvertently broadcast animated footage from a video game in its documentary investigating links in the 1980s between former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and the IRA, claiming it showed geniune scenes of the Irish terrorist group downing a British helicopter.
"With Gaddafi's heavy machine guns it was possible to shoot down a helicopter – as the terrorists' own footage shows," warns a voiceover in sombre tone, in the show broadcast on Monday night. "No one died in the attack," he reassured viewers.
A spokesperson confirmed the mistake, blaming an "unfortunate result of human error".
ITV has archive footage from both the real incident and the video game and it is understood the wrong clip was mistakenly selected during the editing process.
An ITV spokesman said: "The events featured in Exposure: Gaddafi and the IRA were genuine but it would appear that during the editing process the correct clip of the 1988 incident was not selected and other footage was mistakenly included in the film by producers."
The programme, the first in a series of six new documentaries under the "Exposure" title, investigated the provision of money and arms to Irish Republican terrorists by the Libyan dictator.
The video game, called ArmA 2, is set in a fictional post-Soviet country called Chernarus, where a Western- backed democratic government is trying to hold on to power from communist rebels.
The programme has since been removed from the broadcaster's online catch up service, ITV Player, and will be re-edited for all future broadcasts.Reuse content