German prosecutors are investigating two people for allegedly fabricating an account of a mass sex attack by Arab migrants in Frankfurt.
The report, which suggested the attackers lived at a refugee shelter in central Hasse, was widely re-circulated by right-wing news sites.
In an article since taken down from its website, Bild interviewed a chef who runs a restaurant in Fressgass, a busy shopping district, as well as a 27-year-old woman.
The chef alleged that dozens of Arab men came into his restaurant in, stole his customers' jackets and sexually assaulted multiple women.
The 27-year-old female told the paper: “They grabbed me under my skirt, between the legs and on my breast – everywhere.”
Yet, police said on Tuesday they believed the allegations were “completely baseless”. One of the purported victims of the alleged attack was not in Frankfurt at the time of the purported crime, they said.
“Interviews with alleged witnesses, guests and employees led to major doubts with the version of events that had been presented,” police told German daily Frankfurter Rundschau.
“One of the alleged victims was not even in Frankfurt at the time the allegations are said to have taken place.”
They concluded: “Masses of refugees were not responsible for any sexual assaults in the Fressgass over New Year. The accusations are completely baseless.”
No sexual assaults were reported to police from the the area over New Year before the Bild report, they said.
Investigators were looking into whether the pair had made up the story.
Bild's editor-in-chief Julian Reichelt issued an apology on behalf of the tabloid, writing in a tweet: “We apologise for our own work. I’ll shortly announce what Bild will do about it