While every other news agency in the world had been reporting sketchy details of Col Muammar Gaddafi’s death as they became available, the Daily Mail website was running a detailed account of his sensational escape from Transitional forces.
‘Gaddafi comes within a whisker of being captured!’ exclaims the headline, before continuing with an in depth report from their Libyan correspondent, detailing the incredible events that didn't unfold.
‘Surrounded, with seemingly nowhere to go, the situation looked bleak for the man who had ruled Libya for over 40 years.’ Says the report, ‘Pro-Gaddafi forces mounted one last, desperate assault, in an attempt to get their man out of Sirte. An intense fire fight ensued, giving him and his sons just enough chance to make a break for freedom. Their convoy came under heavy fire, but the vehicle carrying Gaddafi, who has been on the run for months, managed to get away.’
‘The frustration among the Transitional fighters was palpable, ‘We had him, and he slipped through our fingertips.’ Said one young combatant, wearing a blue T-shirt and NY Yankees cap ‘We don’t know when we will get another chance like this again, how many more weeks or months we will have to fight because of this missed opportunity.’ Residents of Sirte wept openly in the streets at the news of Gaddafi’s escape, wondering how much longer they will have to endure what they described as ‘a living hell’.’
Critics have rounded on the Daily Mail for, once again, publishing a story that clearly didn’t happen, complete with quotes that were obviously fabricated. But a spokesman for the newspaper defended the move.
‘This is an honest mistake. It’s standard practice to have drafts written of different outcomes to ensure that they can be published in the quickest possible time, and we accidentally posted the wrong one. We’re just grateful that we didn’t publish the version where Tony Blair single-handedly overpowers pro-Gaddafi forces and talks him into giving himself up.’