A French politician accused of tweeting a misleading photo has fought back against comments mocking him.
In the photo, Eric Woerth, a senior conservative MP, appears to be tackling a near-vertical summit in the Alps.
The photo went viral, with many users claiming the angle had been tipped to exaggerate the slope’s steepness.
Mr Woerth – who in 2010 resigned as a minister in then-President Nicolas Sarkozy’s cabinet, amid a political scandal – insists the photo is real.
In his latest tweet, he jokes about “the avalanche (a dangerous phenomenon in a mountain setting) of comments” and says the image has not been doctored in any way.
Bent forward so he is almost on hands and knees, the 63-year-old uses ropes and an ice axe to grip the icy surface of the Aiguille d’Argentière mountain in the Alps.
But Twitter users have pointed out apparent oddities in the picture. Firstly, people in the background seem to have no problem walking upright at an angle of 90 degrees.
“What is most impressive is the two people to the right of the photo who are standing horizontally,” said one user.
Secondly, the zip of Mr Woerth’s coat is sticking out towards the surface of the mountain.
Another user adjusted the photo to the direction of gravity indicated by the zip. “Politicians are desperate!” he jokes.
Thirdly, the ropes on the right of the photo do not fall down the mountain, but stay tangled up flat against its surface.
Mr Woerth currently heads the finance committee of the lower house of the French parliament. In 2010 he was involved in a campaign finance scandal relating to Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2007 presidential election win, and forced to stand down as labour minister.
Mr Woerth was later cleared of any wrongdoing. Some social media users have relished the opportunity to take aim at his political career.
Talking of politicians in general, one man says: “Even on holiday they lie. It’s second nature to them.”
Another replies: “Second nature? No no, first.”
The post has attracted almost 4,000 comments, including several memes, gifs and edited photos mocking Mr Woerth.
As well as responding to the comments himself, Mr Woerth tweeted a Facebook post from Jean-Franck Charlet, the guide who accompanied him on his adventure, who confirmed Mr Woerth was an “excellent climber”.
Mr Charlet said he was “astonished” that the photo had attracted such attention and the media who had reported on it showed a “lack of professionalism”.