The deepfake image posted by Karl Turner MP (L) and the original photo posted on Number 10's Flickr account (R)


A Labour MP has apologised after he shared a fake image of the prime minister on social media.

Karl Turner, who represents Hull East, shared an image on X (formerly known as Twitter) showing Rishi Sunak with a badly pulled pint at the Great British Beer festival, along with a woman looking on disapprovingly in the background.

The post quickly gained attention on the social media platform, with many users questioning its authenticity.

The original image posted on the prime minister’s official account did not feature the same pint or the onlooker giving him a disapproving side-eye.

Science Secretary Michelle Donelan tweeted: “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.

“No elected member of parliament should be misleading the public with fake images. This is pretty desperate stuff from Labour.”

However Mr Turner was defended by Darren Jones, the Labour chair of the Commons Business and Trade Committee, who 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.”

Karl Turner MP
Image:
Labour MP Karl Turner has apologised

Asked to comment, Mr Turner told Sky News he was “sorry for inadvertently sharing an image which apparently turns out to have been fake”.

“How on earth could I possibly know that the image wasn’t real?,” he said.

“It certainly looks real and struck me exactly as what you would expect of the PM.”

Mr Turner pointed out that Mr Sunak received a fix penalty notice for breaching COVID-19 lockdown regulations and when challenged in parliament “denied entirely that he’d ever attended any of the notorious lockdown parties”.

“The hypocrisy of Tory ministers and MPs is breathtaking,” the Labour MP added.

“I am sorry for inadvertently sharing an image which apparently turns out to have been fake but the image looked a lot like what you would expect from useless out-of-touch billionaire Sunak.”

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The row comes a day after Mr Sunak was heckled as he toured a London beer festival to mark a change in alcohol duty.

The prime minister was pouring a pint of Black Dub stout at the stall of the Wensleydale brewery, which operates from his north Yorkshire constituency, when a person interrupted to say: “Prime minister – oh the irony that you’re raising alcohol duty on the day that you’re pulling a pint.”

Another man then shouted at Mr Sunak – who famously enjoys fizzy drinks: “Prime minister, it’s not Coca Cola.”

The prime minister’s visit came as a new system comes into force that will see all alcohol taxed based on its strength, rather than the previous categories of wine, beer, spirits and ciders.

The Treasury has said that more than 38,000 UK pubs will benefit from the move, which will see the duty on draught pints across the UK cut by 11p.

However, it means taxes will rise for some types of drink, including wine and gin.



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