Patti LaBelle Image Credit: Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

Fox News has apologised for mistakenly including a photograph of singer Patti LaBelle in a tribute to late legendary singer Aretha Franklin.

Hours after the legendary artist’s death, the news outlet ran an obituary that had an image featuring Franklin in the foreground and fellow artist LaBelle in the background.

Viewers quickly noticed the gaffe and posted it on social media, sparking widespread mockery of Fox News. Many critics even called the network racist.

“We sincerely apologise to Aretha Franklin’s family and friends,” Jessica Santostefano, Fox News Media Desk Vice President, said in a statement.

“Our intention was to honour the icon using a secondary image of her performing with Patti LaBelle in the full screen graphic, but the image of Ms Franklin was obscured in that process, which we deeply regret.”

The photograph of LaBelle was taken when she performed Over the Rainbow during a Women of Soul: In Performance at the White House special in 2014.

However, at no time during that performance did LaBelle and Franklin share the stage.