A spat has blown up between two local newspapers at the centre of the south west’s great white shark controversy.
The good natured row between the Newquay Guardian and Newquay Voice surfaced when the Guardian published a picture of a shark taken by a reader apparently off the coast of Newquay.
The story was quickly picked up by the national media, but the Newquay Voice has thrown cold water over its rival’s P1 scoop – claiming the photo is a fake and was actually taken in South Africa.
And in a jibe at last week’s Guardian front page which featured the shark pic and headline ‘Great White Spotted in Resort’, this week’s Voice has splashed with ‘Great White Lie’ and a photograph of a reporter in a shark suit outside the Guardian’s Newquay office.
Underneath the picture it reads: ‘But this one’s genuine… honest!’
The Newquay Guardian ran the picture after resident Kevin Keeble took it in to its offices on deadline day.
But its rival, the Voice, now claims Mr Keeble has confessed to one of its reporters that it was a hoax.
Publisher Andrew Laming said: “The guy has gone to ground because he’s so embarassed by the whole thing. But our reporter, Sam Jefferson, met him in a bar and he admitted he faked it.”
And in its report it quotes the snapper as saying: “I took it whilst I was on a fishing trip in Cape Town, and just sent it in as a joke. I didn’t expect anyone to be daft enough to take it seriously.”
Matt Dixon, head of content at the Cornish Guardian, told holdthefrontpage: “Contrary to some reports we did some quite extensive checks, firstly that it was a great white, with a couple of independent sources.
“They did raise some concerns about where it was taken, purely because there were not any landmarks in the picture, but we went back to Mr Keeble and he said it had definitely been taken in Newquay.”
Matt said that checks had also been made on the boat that Mr Keeble claimed to have taken the picture from, and these appeared to show that the boat had recently been in the area.
He added: “At the time we ran it in good faith and were happy it was genuine.
“The only thing we’ve had to the contrary is from our local rivals, who say Mr Keeble has ‘broken his silence’ and come out and said it was taken in South Africa. Only Mr Keeble knows the answer.
“We have tried several times to speak to him and do a follow-up interview. Given that it was us he came to in the first place I am sceptical that [the Voice] has been able to speak to him and would debate where their sources are from.”