The office of former US president George HW Bush has been left red-faced after it accidentally posted that South African statesman Nelson Mandela had died.
Bush spokesman Jim McGrath sent out an email entitled: “Statement by President George H. W. Bush on the death of Nelson Mandela.”
The statement read:
“Barbara and I mourn the passing of one of the greatest believers in freedom we have had the privilege to know. As President, I watched in wonder as Nelson Mandela had the remarkable capacity to forgive his jailers following 26 years of wrongful imprisonment — setting a powerful example of redemption and grace for us all. He was a man of tremendous moral courage, who changed the course of history in his country. Barbara and I had great respect for President Mandela, and send our condolences to his family and countrymen.”
Once emailed, it was picked up by news wire service BNO and flashed by CNN. McGrath later however admitted his mistake, saying that he had based it on a Washington Post News Flash and had not received confirmation from anyone in South Africa.
The 41 stmnt sent this morning was the result of my mis-reading the header on the WaPo news flash. Stupid mistake by me. Apologies to all.
— Jim McGrath (@jgm41) September 1, 2013
Mandela had in fact just been released from the Pretoria hospital where he had spent the last few months, to return to his Johannesburg home.