The viral image of a four-year-old boy asleep on a hospital floor is "in no way staged", the reporter who first obtained the image has said.
Daniel Sheridan from the Yorkshire Evening Post defended the image, after a number of unfounded claims that the image of the boy was fake emerged on social media.
Multiple Facebook and Twitter accounts shared the same story, claiming a "good friend" was a senior nurse at Leeds General Infirmary, and had informed them the boy was put on the floor by his mother for a photograph before being put back onto a trolley.
Among them was Tim Curtis, who has since claimed he "direct quoted" the text to raise awareness of "fake news".
"I was flagging it up in a convo about fake news and punchgate: was concerned I'd seen it snowball on FB. Should never have direct quoted it. Gutted," he explained.
And a medical secretary who also posted the text claims her account was hacked and that she didn't "know anyone in Leeds".
A number of accounts posted the same story about a 'good friend'
Addressing the claims denying the image's authenticity, Mr Sheridan said: "Sarah contacted the Yorkshire Evening Post following her son’s stay at the hospital.
"I requested and gave time for a full response from Leeds General Infirmary. Within the response, Dr Yvette Oade, Chief Medical Officer at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, confirmed the boy and his family had been given a full apology.
"Within the statement, Dr Oade said 'We are extremely sorry that there were only chairs available in the treatment room, and no bed. This falls below our usual high standards, and for this we would like to sincerely apologise to Jack and his family.'
"No story would ever be published by @LeedsNews without full verification. This was in no way staged, and highlights the need to check all accusations to avoid any miscommunication."
talkRADIO's Mike Graham discusses the viral image
Marc Jones, a professor at Hamad Bin Khalifa University, said it appeared the text alleging the image was fake was being posted to "influential local Facebook groups" in key seats.
"We know the role local FB groups are said to play in this election," he wrote.
The photo has become a central part of the election campaign, particularly after Boris Johnson refused to look at it during an interview, instead pocketing the reporter's phone.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock visited the hospital yesterday to address the photograph, when false claims his adviser was punched by a Labour activist outside were circulated by "senior Tories".
Labour's Jeremy Corbyn said the photo was an example of "what is happening in our NHS".
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