Picture of Mike Carlton's head Photoshopped on Boston bombing victim sparks apology from Sydney Daily Telegraph editor Paul Whittaker

The picture was manipulated for a two-page spread on Carlton's resignation

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The Independent Online

The editor of an Australian newspaper has apologised "unreservedly" for manipulating an image of a Boston bombing victim by superimposing a picture of journalist Mike Carlton's head in an Arab headdress on it to illustrate a story about his resignation.

An article in the Sydney Daily Telegraph used an image of Boston bombing victim James Costello as he staggered away from the scene of the tragedy, his clothes ripped, transposed with Carlton’s head in a chequered headdress, with a Gaza-like background.

It appeared in a two-page spread discussing Carlton’s departure from the Sydney Morning Herald. The picture came underneath the headline 'Imploding. Always', a play on SMH’s tagline: 'Independent. Always'.

Carlton left the newspaper in a storm of controversy earlier this week after he was told he would be suspended for responding to abusive emails from readers over a column on Gaza by telling them to "f*** off".

His departure and the initial divisive article, where he claimed Israel was waging "a war of terror on Gaza", proved controversial and attracted the attention of thousands across social media.

The Telegraph’s editor, Paul Whittaker, apologised after the picture was highlighted by Twitter user @themurdochtimes and quickly received a backlash of criticism.

"The Photoshopped image was an amalgam of different images put together during the art production process,” Mr Whittaker told Guardian Australia.

"I was unaware that that particular image had been partially used. It is an inadvertent but regrettable mistake for which the Daily Telegraph apologises unreservedly."

The piece also contained graphics and three opinion pieces on Carlton's exit, alongside the headline 'Mad Mike Goes to War'. In response, Carlton dismissed the piece as "sewer journalism"."To exploit that picture like that is just disgusting but not surprising for the Daily Telegraph," he added.

The original image of Mr Costello was taken by Associated Press photographer Kenshin Okubo as he walked away from the blast, which killed three and injured 264, with severe injuries to his legs.

He had just pulled two roofing nails from his abdomen and was looking for help when the picture was taken, according to AP.

Mr Costello made headlines in 2013 when he announced his engagement to Krista D’Agostino, a nurse who cared for him while he was in rehabilitation after the bombing.