LONDON (Reuters) - Pollster BMG Research said on Wednesday a web page purporting to show a press release describing its latest polling on Britain’s European Union membership referendum was a hoax.
The fake page, which is still available online, showed a four percentage point lead for the “Leave” camp. It included supposed quotes from BMG’s research director Michael Turner and contacts for the company.
“Yes it is a hoax. We don’t know whether or not it was malicious, or someone getting over-excited on Twitter,” Turner told Reuters.
“It’s certainly a hoax, it took place in the early hours of the morning while we were all asleep. We were alerted to it by yourselves this morning and we’ve put a statement out,” he said.
The fake figures were picked up by some media outlets and were widely published on Twitter. The web page, entitled “BMG PRESS RELEASE” linked to BMG’s website and included genuine telephone numbers for the pollster.
BMG asked some Twitter users who had quoted the fake poll to disassociate BMG from the figures.
BMG’s last published poll, on May 25, showed that 45 percent of those questioned supported leaving the bloc, against 44 percent who wanted to stay in.
Markets have grown increasingly jittery in the run-up to the June 23 referendum. Sterling has reacted sharply to opinion polls which have painted a contradictory picture of voting intentions.
The currency hit a two-month low on Tuesday after a TNS poll put the “Leave” camp ahead. It rose 0.3 percent against the euro and the dollar on Wednesday after a ComRes poll for Britain’s Sun newspaper gave the “Remain” camp a 1 point lead.
(The story adds word “on” in headline”)
Editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Robin Pomeroy