Ambulance chiefs in Hampshire called in the police after a newspaper published a hoax letter accusing paramedics of contributing to the death of a teenage patient.
The bogus comments appeared on the letters page of weekly newspaper the Surrey-Hants Star. The author, Peter Davidson, claimed to be a traffic policeman who was first on the scene of a motorcycle crash in which a teenage boy was badly injured.
He told how he had accompanied the boy in the ambulance on the way to hospital, but paramedics drove so recklessly over speed humps that the youngster died on the way.
Paramedic bosses contacted police, who told them there was no traffic officer of that name and no record of the accident.
They then put Davidson’s name in a website search engine and discovered he was a freelance photo-journalist with his own website, who occasionally contributes to the Surrey-Hants Star.
Editor Alan Franklin said: “When someone says they are a police officer, I do not reach for the lie detector. We have other letters from serving officers about the same subject and he spoke with authority.
“In retrospect I should have realised it was too good to be true and checked with the police. The letter was a bit too slick.”
Davidson said: “I was very surprised it was printed as a true story, as it was only ever meant to be fictional. I wrote it to highlight the practical problem of traffic-calming measures, as raised by members of the NHS.”
No charges have been brought against him.