Update: Jason Lee is continuing to double down on a debunked Hollywood Unlocked story alleging Queen Elizabeth II’s death. In a series of tweets on Thursday (Feb. 24), Lee said he would be “active today on Twitter” and claimed to have “receipts” backing up the story.
“Please don’t take my calculated silence as somewhat cowering away from the work I’ve done this week,” he wrote. “I’ll be active today on Twitter. And if you know me you know I’ve ALWAYS come with receipts.”
Original Story: The internet has been on fire after Hollywood Unlocked published false news that Queen Elizabeth II passed away. On Tuesday (Feb. 22), the gossip site took to social media to share the report, per “sources close to the Royal Palace.” But it was suspicious because no reputable site had gone public to confirm the news of her death.
Not backing down, Hollywood Unlocked responded to the accusations, saying, “We don’t post lies and I always stand by my sources. Waiting for an official statement from the palace.”
In an update, Queen Elizabeth II has been confirmed as alive by Buzzfeed News. The outlet reported she spoke with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson by phone on Wednesday (Feb. 23).
Hollywood Unlocked founder Jason Lee has continuously defended the story, however, saying he heard the news from a wedding guest of British Vogue Editor-in-Chief Edward Enninful. According to Lee, a guest who is close to Queen Elizabeth II received an emotional phone call regarding the monarch’s alleged death and informed a few people who were at the event.
“I would never post something like this if the person that told me, I did not trust,” Lee said in a statement to BuzzFeed News. “People are asking why we posted without allowing the royal family or the Palace to release a statement. Why? Because we break stories. And I’ve broken many stories that have been factual. We have never been wrong.”
“I’m not a conspiracy theorist, and everything aligns with me feeling very confident, which is why I doubled down on it,” he went on. “Now if I’m wrong, I’ll be the first one to go out there and say, hey, it’s the first time I got it wrong and this is a big wrong, on to the next story.”
“We’ve never led with gossip,” Lee insisted, although BuzzFeed noted he declined to explain his outlet’s verification process for publishing news. The initial post by Hollywood Unlocked remains on Instagram, but it has been flagged for false information.