Creators of UFO hoax come forward

(left to right) Daniel Cook, Matthew Harrison and Joshua Hibberd ''''Picture: Malcolm Wells (142599-8252)
(left to right) Daniel Cook, Matthew Harrison and Joshua Hibberd ''''Picture: Malcolm Wells (142599-8252)
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THE creators of a UFO hoax who set social media buzzing have come clean.

Several images of an unidentified object hovering over Portsmouth did the rounds last week, sparking speculation that the city could be the landing site of an invasion of green-skinned aliens.

But the explanation for the flying saucer has turned out to be not quite so dramatic.

The photos were faked in a publicity stunt to draw attention to an upcoming science fiction and fantasy festival.

Event organiser Joshua Hibberd, 26, North End, said: ‘We got eight or 10 people from around Portsmouth to take a picture at the same time on the same evening.

‘I e-mailed them to another organiser, Dan Cook, who is a whizz with Photoshop.

‘He added the UFO, and we had help from others to get people talking about it on social media.’

Mr Hibberd said he was bowled over by the international stir the stunt had created after The News reported the UFO sighting.

He said: ‘It’s amazing how people’s imaginations have been taken by this.

‘We really didn’t expect it go as big as it has.

‘We’ve found websites with people talking about it in Canada, India, Singapore, all over.’

‘We wanted it to be Portsmouth-wide, but we didn’t expect it to be worldwide.’

Mr Hibberd dreamt up the hoax as a cheap way of spreading the word about the SciFi and Fantasy Weekend, which will take place on Saturday and Sunday at Action Stations in the Historic Dockyard.

He said: ‘As we’re on a fairly low budget, this was the best way I could think of getting the event put on the map without spending lots of money.’

Mr Hibberd, who studied television and film at university, said science fiction and fantasy had such broad appeal he expected the festival to draw a lot of visitors.

He said: ‘It’s been kind of a geek’s paradise organising an event like this.’

The festival will include an exhibition of replica props from the Back to the Future films including the famous DeLorean time machine.

There will also be a Tardis, themed laser quest, stalls selling comic books and film merchandise and a screening of Guardians of the Galaxy.

Exhibitors will be collecting for two charities including the Michael J Fox foundation for Parkinson’s disease via the Hill Valley Preservation Society.

For more information call (023) 9289 3316.