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A Restaurant Owner Complained After The Daily Mail Used A Picture Of His Steak In A Cannibalism Story

Will Beckett complained on Twitter after the Mail Online used an image of Hawksmoor's chateaubriand on a possibly fake story about human flesh being served in a Nigerian hotel.

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Unfortunately, the Mail illustrated the article with a picture of a steak from Hawksmoor, a high-class London restaurant.

Dear @MailOnline, why are you using a photo of our steak to illustrate 'Nigerian restaurant sells human meat'? Legal?

Specifically, it's chateaubriand. And the restaurant noticed.


After tweeting at the Mail, Beckett told BuzzFeed News that the steak is a "a sliced chateaubriand from Yorkshire Longhorn cattle that we serve at all our restaurants".

He added: "For clarity's sake we don't serve human flesh, there are no severed heads in our kitchen, and we've never even been nominated for 'Nigeria's Best Restaurant' or 'Cannibal Menu of the Year'."

Exactly how the picture ended up in the Mail's story isn't clear, although the paper has previously used it to illustrate a review of a Hawksmoor restaurant.

Tom Parker-Bowles, the paper's restaurant reviewer, visited the Hawksmoor Seven Dials branch in 2011, and declared that his "love" for the restaurant was "real".

It is also the thumbnail on the Hawksmoor Linkedin profile.

To further complicate the situation, it appears that the Nigerian cannibalism story is old, and possibly partly false.

Mail Online seems to have followed it from BBC Swahili, which ran a story on 13 May. However, the factchecking website Snopes investigated, and found that it is based on a 2013 story in the Nigerian tabloid Osun Defender.

The story has several "typical signs of fake news", says Snopes, including several unnamed sources and a flippant tone: a pastor who has eaten the human flesh expresses surprise that it was so expensive. Another newspaper, the Nigerian Tribune, also reported the story in 2013, apparently verifying that human heads were found in a hotel room, but there are still no solid sources saying that anyone ate human flesh.

A spokesman for Mail Online told BuzzFeed News that the story has since been taken down.

"The story was originally on BBC Swahili," he said, "but this morning they added a note saying that it was false and apologising for any 'damage or inconvenience'. They've now taken the story down.

""As soon as we were made aware of that we removed our own story, and published a correction for our readers."

The picture of the Hawksmoor steak had already been removed, he said, after Beckett's complaint was brought to their attention. "It was clearly marked as a file photo of a beef steak."