The Beast of Balbirnie is a large creature which is said to roam the country park in Balbirnie, Fife, Scotland. Paw-prints have been found and analysed, and the leading consensus is that they belong to a big cat, such as a lynx or puma. However, one expert believes that the marks were made by a big dog.
Enter Mark Proctor and Bernard the St. Bernard. Mark suggested that the tracks belonged to Bernard, owned by Mark's sister, Lisa, and her husband. He realised that the tracks had been found around the time that they had last been visiting.
He measured Bernard's paws, which seemed to be about the same size as the tracks. He then digitally placed the pawprint on top of the photo of Bernard's paw, and they were a match.
This sparked some interest in the media. First, the story gained column inches in local newspapers, then The Sun, The Daily Mail
, and The Daily Express
. Full House
magazine did a spread on the story. Radio Scotland
broadcast an interview with Mark, and both GMTV
and BBC News
featured the story on television.
The trouble is, Mark had made it all up. He had resized the photograph of Bernard's paw to fit the photo of the cast of the pawprint, and had never planned for his hoax to be spread across the national news. He'd simply started off posting it on his blog forum
, and it all sprang from there.
As Mark himself said, if anyone had properly examined his story, they would have found a distinct lack of evidence.
All fees gained from appearances on television and in newspapers have been donated to the shelter
at which Lisa found Bernard.