Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Did Polish dentist remove ex-boyfriend's teeth?

On 27 April, the Mail published this story:

The day after, this blog was contacted on Twitter by Miroslaw Baran who said the story was 'false' and added:

No such dentist in the Polish doctor's registry (membership is mandatory), also highly improbable for medical reasons.

Yesterday, Erin Tennant at published an article which agreed with Baran:

A hugely popular news story about a jilted dentist accused of pulling out all her ex-boyfriend's teeth has unraveled as a hoax.

Tennant contacted the police in Wroclaw, Poland who revealed:

"Lower Silesia Police Department has not been notified about such an event and is not investigating such a case," Pawel Petrykowski of the Provincial Police Headquarters in Wroclaw said in an email that was translated into English.

What about an investigation by the professional body?

A legal adviser for Poland’s Chamber of Physicians and Dentists, which handles disciplinary matters, said the organization is not investigating and has never investigated any such case, and added that there is no dental practitioner named Anna Maćkowiak listed in Poland’s central register of dentists.

"No information about this kind of misconduct has been provided to the Supreme Chamber," the legal advisor, Marek Szewczyński, said in an email. "The Supreme Chamber is also not aware of any actions of this kind being taken by the Regional Chamber of Physicians and Dentists in Wroclaw, which would be the competent authority in case of a possible professional misconduct committed by a dental practitioner from Wroclaw."

The Polish media largely ignored the story although:

Polish television news channel TVN4 published an article mocking foreign media's coverage of the story, which it speculates began as a prank. "It appears that the article, written as a joke, began life on the Internet and has little to do with any truth," the translated article reads.  

The same cannot be said of media in the UK and the US, including:

Fox News, the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, Huffington Post, Yahoo! News, MSN, the New York Post, and The New York Daily News.

Tennant points out:

All the news reports about Maćkowiak published on news websites in the U.S. and elsewhere, such as Australia’s Herald Sun or New Zealand Herald, can be traced back to an article published in the online edition of Britain's Daily Mail newspaper.

But Simon Tomlinson, whose byline appears on the MailOnline article:

...said he does not know where the story came from and distanced himself from it when questioned about its origins.

"I've drawn a bit of a blank," he said in an email. "The (Daily) Mail Foreign Service, which did the piece for the paper, is really just an umbrella term for copy put together from agencies. My news desk isn’t sure where exactly it came from."

The article remains live on MailOnline. 

(Hat-tip to Craig Silverman)

UPDATE (12 May): As Wildy notes in the comments, the Mail's article has now been, ahem, pulled.

UPDATE (6 JULY): A similar story from last November: remember the story of the ex-boyfriend who inked a steaming poo tattoo on his former girlfriend's back? That was also false

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