A reported sighting of a new house being built in Essex set off a frenzied search, a torrent of rumours, and a string of features on the BBC news.
Photoshopped pictures that have been traced back to the Campaign for the Protection of Rich bits of England caused panic across the Shires as millions of people began to believe that new houses were popping up in almost every field.
Armed police joined planning officers and vigilantes in the search in case some planning or building control regulation had been breached.
Housing Minister Grant Shapps twittered ‘We are/are not* (*delete as politically expedient) building houses in Essex. Whichever it is, I claim all the credit and none of the blame.’ #bonkers #pleasepromotemebeforeeveryonerealisesimadisaster
A spokesman for Essex Police said ‘Public safety and protecting house prices are our highest concerns, which is why we are taking all sightings seriously. Away from towns everyone should be aware of the possible risk’.
A spokesman for the #LOLicyExchange think tank said ‘This is a shocking turn of events. If this is a social home it must be sold off immediately’.
The police helicopter search was called off late last night after no sign was found of any new houses anywhere.
With thanks to #EssexLion and various reports in the national press.