The mystery over a ‘ghost diner’ at an Indian restaurant that cooked up a storm on the internet has finally been solved, Mail Online can reveal.
Retired IT manager Alan Harding has come forward to reveal he is the person tucking into a chicken korma – and not the late husband of a local resident in a Hampshire village.
Lucy Watson had claimed the white haired man who seated at a table for two was her late husband Harry who died nine years ago.
He was seen in short promotional video for the Spice Cottage restaurant in the village of Westbourne, near Chichester and her claim went viral despite the restaurant insisting the film was shot earlier this month.
Restaurant manager Rofiqul Islam posted a tongue-in-cheek message on their Facebook page along with a photo of the actual customer, Alan Harding, 67, to end the mystery
Ms Watson said her husband (pictured) – who died aged 61 in 2014 – was ‘a big, distinctive man’ who had white hair and wore glasses
Lucy (pictured) had told how she was convinced she had spotted her ‘instantly recognisable’ husband – who was an award-winning journalist and a popular larger than life character in the local area
But now 67 year old Mr Harding has admitted he was the man in the video and he was enjoying a meal with a friend visiting from Essex.
Mr Harding told Mail Online:’ I guess I am the ghost. It is just unbelievable how many people from around the world have read about this.
‘I had not idea until a friend of mine called to say he head read about the ghost diner and thought it looked like me.
‘I saw the video and of course recognised myself and my friend Kevin Parsons. It is all quite funny, but I am definitely very much alive.’
Mr Harding, who lives in the village of Emsworth, said he visits the Spice Cottage about half dozen times a year.
He was at the restaurant on January 16th when the owners filmed diners tucking into their meals.
Mr Harding and Mr Parsons were seated in the middle of the restaurant at a table for two. He said:’ They do a very good curry and it is our local place to go.
‘I do remember seeing them film in the restaurant but thought nothing of it. I guess some people really wanted it to be a ghost but sadly not to be.
The restaurant revealed Mr Harding had called in on Monday night to say he was the diner in the video.
Restaurant manager Rofiqul Islam posted a tongue in cheek message on their Facebook page along with a photo of a smiling Mr Harding to end the mystery.
It read: ‘Aloo Everyone!
‘We have a ghee mattar we would like to close.
‘The photo below is our customer that was captured in one of our recent promo video. We can confirm he is not Lucy’s husband.
‘As much as we wish our curries bring people out of kormas, unfortunately this was not the case.
‘Our video has spread through all corners of the world, and it has been a pleasure of meeting the customers who have cumin this week!
‘If you are ever in the village of Westbourne, please pop in, there’s never a dhall moment in our restaurant.’
Alex (right), 39, later came forward to settle the matter once and for all and confirmed he and his late father do not feature in the video
Last night, Rofiqul Islam, the manager of Spice Cottage insisted the footage was shot two weeks ago
In her original posting widow Mrs Watson asked when the video was shot as she was convinced it was her husband Harry, a former music journalist.
The restaurant’s Facebook page was deluged with comment from as far as Tahiti and the Virgin Islands with theories about who the diner was.
Soon after, the issue went viral. Some social media users compared it with the case of Canoe Man John Darwin, who faked his own death in 2002 in a life insurance scam.
Lucy had told how she was convinced she had spotted her ‘instantly recognisable’ husband – who was an award-winning journalist and a popular larger-than-life local character.
She said her husband, who died aged 61 in 2014, was ‘a big, distinctive man’ who had white hair and wore glasses.
She added: ‘I recognised the blue sweatshirt he was wearing and he is sitting there with his son Alex.’
Lucy told how the pair would occasionally dine at the Indian restaurant when Alex came to visit his father.
She believed the eatery had posted old footage in a drive to attract new customers
Mrs Watson’s son Alex,39, denied that it was his father in the video in the hope of ending the mystery.
But Alex, a former world duathlon champion who competed for Great Britain, insisted Lucy had simply got it wrong.
He said: ‘It’s not him and it’s not me. When I opened up my laptop it’s completely obvious. Anyone who knew my dad would know that straight away.
‘The guy in the video looks like he’s bald for starters. He’s got hair on the side but he’s bald on top. The guy who is opposite him is older than me.
‘I feel sorry for the restaurant. They’ve done nothing wrong and all this is going on.’
Father-of-three Mr Doherty, who was born in Northern Ireland, won accolades for his coverage of the Troubles before moving to England where he relaunched his career as a music journalist
Alex, who now lives in Worcestershire, said he had not been in contact with Lucy in recent years. He added: ‘I don’t know what she’s thinking.’
Harry’s daughter Kiera Doherty, 40, also told MailOnline: ‘The person in that photo 100 per cent isn’t Harry Doherty.
‘The person opposite him also definitely isn’t my brother. In fact it’s very very clearly not either of them.’
Mr Doherty, who was born in Northern Ireland, won accolades for his coverage of the Troubles before moving to England, where he relaunched his career as a music journalist working for the now-defunct magazine Melody Maker.
Among the bands and artists he championed as they were trying to break into the big time were Thin Lizzy, Kate Bush, 10CC and The Boomtown Rats.
He went on to found his own rock magazine and become a friend of Queen guitarist Brian May after writing an official book on the band.
May sent floral tributes to the rock writer’s funeral after he died in April 2014.