Katie Hopkins has reportedly claimed that the photo showing the body of Aylan Kurdi’s body on a Turkish beach was "staged".
The columnist, who announced her move from The Sun to the Daily Mail yesterday, was speaking to Paul Brand from ITV at the Ukip annual conference.
“Katie Hopkins tells me the photo of three-year-old Aylan's body on the beach was ‘staged’,” he wrote on Twitter.
Paul Nuttall, Ukip’s deputy leader and the MEP for North West England, distanced his party from the comments and told ITV he was unaware that Ms Hopkins was a guest at the party's event.
Aylan’s body was washed up on a beach in Turkey’s Bodrum peninsula earlier this month after he drowned alongside his mother and brother as they tried to reach Greece.
His family were among hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees who have risked their lives attempting to flee to Europe this year.
A photo of Aylan’s drowned body lying on the beach, published by this newspaper, sparked renewed outrage over the deaths of more than 2,500 migrants and asylum seekers so far this year on voyages cross the Mediterranean and Aegean.
But even as the distressing image drove demands for the EU to prevent the tragedies and give refugees a home, right-wing websites started circulating conspiracy theories claiming the photos were “staged” as part of a political plot to garner global sympathy.
People seized on an image of a Turkish police officer picking up a child’s body on a markedly different section of beach to argue that Aylan was moved for a photo opportunity.
“Little Aylan Kurdi, if he is dead, did not drown. He was killed. And the picture is a set-up fake. His body has been arranged in position,” one person wrote on Twitter.
“The media, who buy in to the UN’s politics, can not only advance its ideological aim, they can also financially benefit from twisting the true facts of the death of poor little Aylan Shenu,” a conspiracy blog said.
“And if there ever was a doubt about this being anything else, please, consider this, most telling fact: before the most heart-wrenching photos of little Aylan were taken, his body was specifically and intentionally posed!”
But the photo used as “evidence” of the alleged forgery is actually of Aylan’s older brother, five-year-old Galip, who also drowned alongside his mother as they tried to cross the Aegean Sea.
His body, washed up on a different stretch of beach nearby, is visibly larger and dressed in different clothing and shoes.
And far from it being a “staged” shot, the photographer who took the now iconic image of Aylan has told how she was in Bodrum to await refugee arrivals and noticed “lifeless bodies” on the beach by chance.
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