A man, perhaps most aptly described as a professional Twitter troll, has fooled several national newsdesks into thinking he is "Crystal Methodist" Rev Paul Flowers, with a particularly unconvincing Twitter account.
The account, which had remarkably poor spelling and grammar for a Bristol University educated chairman of a major bank, was created around one week ago by Manchester-based Cody Lachey, who tweets as @badboysmcr.
The account began following a number of journalists, and tweeted about the case of the former Co-op Bank chairman, who was reported to have been a meth user and using male escorts.
I am sorry for all of this, & I am seeking professional help, and apologise to all I have hurt or failed by my actions, im looking at Rehab— Paul Flowers (@PaulFlowersRvd) January 13, 2014
Actually thinking about taking the advice I've been given about going into rehab, but going to wait to see what happens ref my case first.— Paul Flowers (@PaulFlowersRvd) January 12, 2014
Im up early and feeling refreshed, im back writing my tell all book it's part autobiographical part whistle blower, it will shock & amaze.— Paul Flowers (@PaulFlowersRvd) January 18, 2014
The Twitter account gained Lachey three stories in the Daily Mail, about "Revd Flowers". The Mail said in the story that sources close to Flowers had confirmed the account was real.
The story removed read:
In an account believed to have been set up by the disgraced 63-year-old, Flowers said he was seeking professional help, and issued an apology to all he had 'hurt or failed' through his actions.
Under the username @PaulFlowersRVD, the Methodist minister said he was due to speak to police officers tomorrow over drug allegations, and that he was 'nervous' as to whether he would be charged.
Although Flowers did not respond to requests to confirm that he was behind the account on the social networking sites, sources close to the minister said that it was genuine.
Another story said Flowers was set to write a tell-all book, another that he admitted only getting the Co-op job because of "friends in high places". Both stories were from the Twitter account.
ITV News' website also carried a story saying Flowers was to quit as a Methodist minister.
Their story read:
The sixty three year old, who has served as a minister for more than forty years, last night tweeted that he was resigning as a minister in the Clayton and Wibsey area of Bradford because he had " brought shame upon the church.
But Channel 5 news presenter Julian Druker, spotting the stories in the Mail, was the first to confirm the account was fake, though long assumed to be so by most who had seen the feed.
Rev Paul Flowers' Twitter account is FAKE, his lawyer tells me. 'Anyone who believes that is real needs psychiatric attention'— Julian Druker (@Julian5News) January 19, 2014
Most of the stories based on the fake account have now been removed.
Lachey, who says he is an ex-soldier has appeared numerous times on the BBC and other broadcasters as an "Afghan veteran" but his Twitter behaviour has meant he has been in trouble with the law.
Lachey was arrested in November on suspicion of threatening to kidnap two rent boys involved in the Flowers scandal, accused of sending threatening texts to one of the escorts.
In 2012, Lachey was arrested for admitting sending images of bullets to Sunderland footballer James McClean, after McClean chose not to wear a club shirt embroidered with a poppy.
Lachey, 29, posted images of 5.6mm bullets alongside the message: "Poppy bullies' death threats against James McClean! Too right he deserves to be shot dead + body dragged past the cenotaph!!"
"I wanted him dead," said Lachey, told the Derry Journal at the time of the incident. "But there's no threat from me to James McClean now, although I can't be held responsible for what other people may do.
"I think he's a fucking disgrace. I know I'll end up in trouble and maybe in prison over this but I'm willing to go to court, that's how strongly I feel."
That same year, he was named in a documentary as an enforcer for a notorious Manchester crime family headed by Domenyk Noonan, in the film 'Meet the Noonans'. The Mirror called him "a doorman and a loyal Noonan disciple".
He has applied for Big Brother, and been quoted by TV, radio and newspapers as a case study subjects as broad as the bedroom tax, the 2011 riots in Manchester, the EDL and the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby.
Lachey told HuffPost UK he was pursued by four separate Mail journalists over the story. "For one of the nation's biggest papers to print the rubbish that I have put is madness, I don't make the news I write it.
"It's amazing how not one, not two but three journalists from one of nation's most popular papers wrote three stories, just on what I put on Twitter.Suggest a correction