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Cruise operator admits he faked Nessie pictures

By Duncan Ross and Jamie Durent

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The image that Mr Edwards purported was genuine
The image that Mr Edwards purported was genuine

LOCH Ness cruise boat operator George Edwards has admitted the photo of Nessie he took last year is a fake – and he is proud of it.

Mr Edwards, of Loch Ness Cruises at Drumnadrochit, claimed in August 2012 that he took the picture – which attracted worldwide attention – near Urquhart Castle.

He said at the time: "I did not want to mention my sighting until I was sure that I had not photographed a log or something inanimate in the water in the water. I have friends in the USA who have friends in the military.

"They had my photo analysed and they have no doubt that I photographed an animate object in the water.

"I was really excited as I am sure that some strange creatures are lurking in the depths of Loch Ness."

Mr Edwards has now admitted the picture was a fake and was proud to be following in the tradition of the famous "Surgeon's Photograph" of 1934, supposedly showing the monster's head and neck, which was later proved to be a hoax.

"So as far as I'm concerned it's perfectly valid," he said. "It's just a bit of fun.

"I am quite happy to join the rogues' gallery along with the surgeon who produced the best known picture image of the monster in the world.

"How do you think Loch Ness would have fared over the years without that picture? I have no guilty feelings at all about what I have done."

It is understood Mr Edwards may have used a Nessie fibreglass hump which had previously been used in a National Geographic documentary to create his fake photo.

Yesterday Willie Cameron, of the Clansman Hotel agreed with Mr Edwards that the fake pictures would help boost the Nessie story rather than damage it.

"It brings the story back to the limelight," he said. "It will probably create another wave of interest in Loch Ness which is required to keep the story going.

"It's been running now for about 80 years and I think most people knew George's photos were fake, just like the majority of photographs of the monster."

However, Steve Feltham, who has hunted the monster from Dores beach since 1991, said the admission harmed Mr Edwards' credibility and the Loch Ness Monster brand.

"It does the subject no good and damages his own reputation," he said. "When you read things like this in the papers, people will think it's all just a fairytale.

"But if you read the reports and books you're more likely to think that something is there to be explained. He's supposed to be taking people out on tours but he's nothing more than a faker and a liar."

In 1989, Mr Edwards said he found "Nessie's Lair" after his boat recorded a depth of 812 feet in the loch near Urquhart Castle.

The trench was then named Edwards Deep.

Mr Edwards was criticised last year by the former boss of the Loch Ness centre Tony Harmsworth who said he should not have to resort to "fakery" to keep his customers entertained.

Mr Harmsworth, who lives in Drumnadrochit, subsequently resigned from the Drumnadrochit Chamber of Commerce after fellow members failed to back him.

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