May 14, 2020 / 3:18 PM / 14 days ago

False claim: Photograph of Boris Johnson shows him dealing with the strain of leading through a pandemic

A photograph of Boris Johnson sitting cross-legged on a bench, head in hands, has been included in various social media posts suggesting it shows the immense strain the British prime minister is under as he leads the country through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt

“Honestly heart breaking,” says one post. “Keep going Boris.” (here)

Another says: “Politics will always always divide opinions but you see this guy here?? He’s our prime minister! He has the weight of the world on his shoulders!” It goes on: “Seeing this photo of him sat here like this hurts my heart. His sadness and tired out soul really resonates! Don’t you think?” (here)

While the posts do not say when and where the photograph was taken, many of those commenting on them clearly believe that it is an image of a beaten down Johnson feeling the strain during the current health crisis.

Any suggestions that is the case are false. The picture actually shows him taking a break during the Conservative Party conference in Bournemouth in 2002 – a fact confirmed to Reuters by a spokesman for Getty Images, the UK-based agency which owns the copyright of the photo.

While UK death rates and new infections have been falling, Johnson’s handling of the coronavirus crisis has divided public opinion. His government has been criticised over its response to COVID-19, which has so far killed more people in Britain than in any other European country.

Johnson himself spent several days in intensive care in a London hospital in April after becoming infected with the virus. (here)


False. The photograph of Boris Johnson with his head in his hands was not taken during the COVID-19 pandemic but almost 18 years earlier at a Conservative Party conference.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts here .

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