A lot of people are claiming that Nigel Farage was involved in the notorious far-right National Front party as a teenager.

There is no evidence that this is true and the suggestion that Mr Farage was photographed alongside a National Front leader in 1979 is almost certainly untrue.

Thousands of people have shared Twitter posts of this photograph.

The shot dates from 1979 and forms part of the archive of the respected picture agency Getty Images. There is no reason to think it has been doctored or captioned wrongly by Getty.

It shows a man called Martin Webster leaving Kingston Crown Court in October 1979.

The caption from Getty states that Mr Webster, in the suit and tie, had just been given a six-month suspended sentence for publishing material likely to incite racial hatred.

At the time, Mr Webster was a leading figure in the National Front, an anti-immigration party widely condemned as white supremacist and fascist.

Some people are now suggesting that the boy wearing the cap on Webster’s right is a young Nigel Farage. The current leader of the Brexit Party would have been 15 at the time the snap was taken.

When contacted by FactCheck, an aide to Mr Farage strenuously denied it was him in the photo – and all the evidence we have seen suggests that it is not him.

The face

To our eyes, the youngster in the photo bears no more than a passing resemblance to Nigel Farage.

If you look at pictures of the Brexit Party leader as a teenager – like the one on the right here showing him as an 18-year-old member of the Combined Cadet Force – we would suggest that the difference in the facial features is clear.

But these things are in the eye of the beholder, and certainly there are many people who believe the boy walking on Martin Webster’s right could be Mr Farage.

What does Martin Webster say?

Mr Webster, now in his 70s, told FactCheck: “To the best of my knowledge, Nigel Farage was never a member of the National Front. I do not believe that the lad shown in the photograph standing beside me is Nigel Farage.”

While Mr Webster could not positively identify the young man, he states that he was 5ft 11.5 inches tall at the time the photo was taken, and that the youngster was significantly shorter than him.

Would Mr Farage – now 5ft 8 inches tall – have been this short at the age of 15-and-a-half?

The clothes look wrong, too. In October 1979, Mr Farage was a pupil at the south London private school Dulwich College.

Mr Webster tells an interesting anecdote about some Dulwich schoolboys visiting the National Front’s headquarters and bookshop at Pawson’s Road, Croydon, at around this time.

He notes: “Though they wore casual dress, their clothing… was smart ‘designer’ stuff; their hair was well-cut and short — all as you would expect of lads from wealthy families attending a posh public school.

“I would have noticed if they wore scruffy boots of the type worn by the lad in the picture.”

He adds: “I think that if Nigel Farage had associated himself as a young man with the NF in the 1970s, he would have got to know a few people in the party.

“Put another way: a few people in the party would have got to know him. In view of his high profile in politics since he helped found Ukip, it is likely that his former NF associates would have gossiped about his previous involvement with the NF…

“No such gossip about Farage has ever surfaced.”

It must be acknowledged that Mr Webster is a man with a long involvement in far-right politics and has never recanted his extreme political views.

But people on the opposite end of the political spectrum also say no evidence has emerged linking Mr Farage to far-right groups as a youngster.

FactCheck spoke to Searchlight, the anti-fascist magazine that kept careful tabs on the activities of the National Front at the height of the party’s popularity in the 1970s.

A senior representative of the magazine told us that rumours of Mr Farage’s involvement in far-right circles have never stood up to scrutiny.

In 2013, Channel 4 News ran a story based on a letter written by one of Mr Farage’s teachers at Dulwich College warning of his “racist” and “neo-fascist” views as a schoolboy.

Other teachers at the school defended Mr Farage’s behaviour, saying he enjoyed goading left-wing teachers and was guilty of nothing worse than “naughtiness”.

None of the accusations in this, or similar media stories focusing on Mr Farage’s alleged behaviour as a schoolboy, have made the accusation that he was an active member of a far-right group or party like the National Front.

Mr Farage responded to the 2013 Channel 4 News story by saying that he had been a “troublemaker” who “wound people up” by expressing controversial views.

But he added: “Any accusation I was ever involved in far-right politics is utterly untrue.”

So who is the boy in the photo?

We have not been able to identify the young man in the photograph.

Our fellow fact-checkers at Snopes.com have nominated Richard Verrall, former deputy chairman of the National Front, as a likely candidate, based on facial similarity.

But Mr Verrall – pictured here alongside Martin Webster in 1980 – was around 31 when the first photo was taken, not a slightly-built youngster.

Mr Webster told FactCheck that the boy was definitely not Mr Verrall, a close colleague of his at the time.