A Scottish skipper has admitted pulling the wool over the eyes of the world - by faking a picture of the elusive Loch Ness Monster.
After what must have been a lonely 26 years patrolling the famous loch on his boat Nessie Hunter IV, George Edwards finally made the limelight after producing an image of a mysterious dark hump moving in the water towards Urquhart Castle.
The picture quickly went viral and presumably Edwards, who insisted: "I'm convinced I was seeing Nessie as I believe in these creatures," got a lot more customers wanting to visit the loch.
George Edwards claimed this was definitive proof of the existence of the Loch Ness Monster
But on Friday he revealed it was all a big hoax - and what he'd actually photographed was a fibreglass hump that can be seen in 2011's National Geographic film The Truth Behind The Loch Ness Monster.
"Why should I feel guilty for having a bit of fun?" the indignant 61-year-old said.
"Where would Loch Ness be without the world's best known forgery? These so-called experts come along with their theories about big waves and big fish, and their visitor centre, but I'm sick to death of them.
Now he admits it was this fibreglass hump used in a National Geographic film
"People come here for a holiday and a bit of fun.
"I'm one of the people who has brought thousands of people to the Highlands over the years, and I can tell you they don't come here for the science."
Edwards has since tried to play down the furore over his hoax, claiming to have owned up to it just days after the picture was published - but though we can find evidence of him appearing to "water down" his claims, we can't find an outright admission.
Edwards claims to have been hunting the Loch Ness Monster for 26 years
In August last year he told ABC News: "In my opinion, it probably looks kind of like a manatee, but not a mammal."
Today, Edwards, who says he operates the busiest boat tours of the loch, said: "People know all about my forged photo, but they still want to come on my boat."
Well played Edwards, well played. While we have your attention, check out these other rather splendid hoaxes:
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