An anonymous group hacked an email account of a respected businessman in a bid to allege that photographs published by Independent News & Media of the aftermath of a protest in Dublin on Saturday evening were fake.
A number of journalists and business representatives received an email on Saturday evening alleging pictures taken in the aftermath of an anti water charges protests in Jobstown, Tallaght, were fake. The email was sent to their private addresses.
The series of photographs, which were taken by award winning Sunday Independent photographer Tony Gavin, were published on Independent.ie on Saturday evening.
The images captured a youth throwing a brick at a garda car.
The images were not 'photo-shopped' - video subsequently emerged showing footage of the youth throwing the object at the vehicle.
A sequence of all photographs taken by Mr Gavin of the incident were also published on the website and on Mr Gavin's Facebook account.
It has now emerged that an email was sent to the private email addresses of some 100 journalists, politicians and business leaders on Saturday evening alleging the photographs were fake.
However the sender of the email says his account was hacked and he did not send the email in question
The email alleged that the "photo was a fake" and "it had been 'photo-shopped' very badly".
The correspondence went on to say that "the ombudsman needs to make a definitive case case of this and the full force of the law should be brought to bear".
The email was signed off by a company director based in the UK.
When the man was contacted via the email account, he said his account was hacked and that he lives in the UK.
He described the incident as "very, very bizarre".
The company director informed his company what had occurred and they investigated the incident.
The company's webmaster said the server that hacked his account was based in the Netherlands.
The man said an anonymous group used the server in question.
It's understood the hacker had 100 private email addresses belonging to journalists, business leaders and politicians in the mid-west region of the country.
A number of individuals on the list who received the email contacted the businessman expressing their shock at receiving his email as they had no interaction or correspondence with him beforehand.
The subject line of the email read; "disgraceful photo shop my irish independant [sic]".
The businessman said he has no knowledge of the issue which was the subject of the email.
Sunday Independent photographer Tony Gavin said the images were not 'photo-shopped' and accurately recorded the event.
Tony has been a photographer for 28 years - and is a respected and award winning member of the Press Photographers Association of Ireland (PPAI).
He has worked as a staff photographer for the Sunday Independent for the past 20 years.
Before that he worked for the Irish Press for four years, and he also freelanced for other Irish titles such as the Sunday Tribune.
He also worked for 'The Australian' newspaper while living in Australia.
Speaking to Independent.ie, Tony said the veracity of his work has never once been called into question.
'I was traumatised by it to be honest.
"To suggest that I 'photo-shopped' an image attacks the very foundation and principles of the way we work.
"To suggest that I would do something like this, it's like watching your whole career going up in front of your eyes.
'I have attended countless news events over the years and have faithfully reported what was going on.
"I have never been attacked like this.
"In saying that, I'd really like to thank my friends and colleagues. When I published the sequence of pictures on Facebook, my colleagues and friends shared them.
"After that, I got nothing but positive responses from everybody. It's great to have colleagues stand behind you like this."
Ray McManus, President of the Press Photographers Association of Ireland, said the association condemns "in the strongest possible terms any suggestion that a member of Tony Gavin's reputation and long-standing respect would alter any images.
"It's disgusting to say something like that of Tony and we offer our full support.
"Tony selected an image which recorded the point of impact from a sequence of shots. He filed this image for publication as he judged it to be the best shot.
This is standard practice for all photographers. He later published th e sequence of all the shots which clearly shows nothing was digitally altered or 'photo-shopped' and these claims against Tony should end right now."
Daniel McConnell, father of the NUJ Chapel at Independent newspapers has denounced inaccurate attacks on Mr Gavin.
“Tony Gavin is a photographer of the highest integrity," he said.
"Tony has since conclusively debunked the highly erroneous and offensive accusations that photographs used on Independent.ie and in the Sunday Independent were digitally altered. Such falsehoods were circulated across social media at the weekend. The Independent NUJ Chapel fully supports our colleague in the face of such attacks.”