Urban fox killing video in London was a hoax

Image caption,
The film-makers were behind the Starsuckers documentary, which exposed media credulousness

A video posted on the internet showing a fox being clubbed to death in a London park was a hoax, it has emerged.

Chris Atkins and Johnny Howorth, the men behind the Starsuckers documentary, said they made the film as a satirical swipe at the "ludicrous media coverage" of the dangers of urban foxes.

The police received several complaints about the video and animal rights groups condemned it.

Mr Atkins apologised to members of the public who were upset by the footage.

'Irresponsible reporting'

Speaking to BBC London, he said the "dead" animal in the footage was a stuffed fox and the live "fox" was in fact a pet dog.

"We saw after the attack on the twins in east London, which was horrific, how absolutely ridiculous the reporting was.

"The reporting, including by the BBC, was both irresponsible and misrepresentative.

"It never stressed that urban fox attacks were very rare and they [foxes] are not dangerous."

Isabella Koupparis and her twin Lola were sleeping in their cots at their home in Hackney, east London, when they were mauled on 5 June.

Mr Atkins said he had tried to make the fox video as "ridiculously silly and Python-esque" as possible.

But he added: "I regret the reaction to it.

"I did not expect so many people to take it seriously and I apologise to members of the public who were upset by it."

The Metropolitan Police's wildlife crime group said it had received a number of complaints which were being looked into by the local Tower Hamlets force.

The video, part of which was used in a BBC London television report into the apparent practice of urban fox killing, was removed from YouTube and Facebook following the complaints.

Mr Atkins and Mr Howarth were behind the Starsuckers documentary film, which set out to expose how easily tabloid newspapers could be fooled into printing false stories about celebrities.

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