Jason Lee, the founder of the US blog Hollywood Unlocked, is standing by his outlet’s false report that the Queen has died.
Buckingham Palace announced on Sunday (20 February) that the Queen had tested positive for coronavirus and is “experiencing mild cold-like symptoms but expects to continue light duties at Windsor over the coming week”.
On Tuesday 22 February, Hollywood Unlocked published a story on its site titled “HU Exclusive: Queen Elizabeth Dead”.
The first paragraph of the story – which, at the time of writing, is still live on the website – reads: “Socialites, it is with our deepest regret to inform you that Britain’s Queen Elizabeth has died.
“Sources close to the Royal Kingdom notified us exclusively that Queen Elizabeth has passed away. She was scheduled to attend the wedding of British Vogue editor Edward Enninful, but was found dead.”
Shortly after the story was published, the blog’s founder Lee responded to criticism of the story, insisting: “We don’t post lies and I stand by my sources”.
“Waiting for an official statement from the palace,” he added.
On Wednesday morning (23 February), a Twittter account with the handle @hwoodunlocked, posing as the outlet, shared its “deepest apologies” to the Royal Family in a tweet, calling the mistake an “embarrassing situation”.
“It was an accident and we’re working hard to make sure that this mistake never happens again,” the tweet said. “The intern journalist was misinformed and published the draft post by mistake.”
While several publications attributed to the apology to Hollywood Unlocked, Lee has doubled down on his false claim and called the account that posted the apology “fake”.
In a new tweet on Wednesday morning (23 February), Lee wrote: “Woke up to some fake account posting a retraction. We do not know that account and we have not retracted our story. There has yet to be an official statement from the Palace. Staying tuned.”
His tweet was shared by Hollywood Unlocked’s real account, which has the handle @HollywoodUL.
On Wednesday, the Queen held her weekly phone call with Boris Johnson despite having Covid-19.
A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: “Her Majesty did speak to the Prime Minister this evening.”
This story has been amended to include the fact that @hwoodunlocked is a fake account
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