Another statistical report, another chance to twist the findings and stir up some more animosity over migration for the Daily Mail and the Daily Express.

This week, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released a report called International immigration and the labour market, UK 2016.

It was an analysis of numbers of EU and non-EU workers in various industries as well as those unemployed and economically inactive (retired, sick, etc.).

Nothing particularly astonishing about the findings (which can be viewed here). Migrants make up 11% of the UK labour market (which roughly corresponds with the level of migrants in the country overall); there are more migrants working in some sectors than others; migrants are more likely to be over-qualified for their jobs than UK nationals, and on average they work more hours and earn slightly less.

Overall, no big changes from a similar study done using data from 2011.

Commenting on the figures, ONS statistician Anna Bodey said: ‘Today’s analysis shows the significant impact international migration has on the UK labour market. It is particularly important to the wholesale and retail, hospitality, and public administration and health sectors, which employ around 1.5 million non-UK nationals.

Almost not newsworthy at all then, except perhaps as an opportunity to remind people of the importance of migration to keep the economy functioning.

However, the Mail and the Express rarely miss an opportunity to seize on academic or government figures relating to migration and twist them to try and portray migrants in a negative light.

The effort by the Daily Mail this time around was particularly remarkable. It went with the headline ONE IN SEVEN EU NATIONALS OF WORKING AGE IN THE UK IS UNEMPLOYED OR ‘INACTIVE’ – NEARLY EQUIVALENT TO A CITY THE SIZE OF BRISTOL.

Aside from being yet another ridiculously long headline (which the paper specialises in) that doesn’t even focus on the main study findings, it’s a peculiar thing to single out as this figure is LOWER than the UK average as a whole.

15% of working-age EU citizens in the UK are unemployed or inactive (1 in 7) compared to 21% of UK citizens (1 in 5).

So EU nationals are LESS likely to be out of work.

Why, then, would the Mail want to frame its story around unemployment figures of this particular group? Could the paper be trying to encourage its readers to view EU migrants as a burden on the state at a time when the subject of EU migrants in the UK is one of the most politically charged of them all? Even though the figures the paper is basing its report on state the opposite? Would the paper stoop that low?

It’s undoubtedly for biased reporting such as this that the editors at Wikipedia chose to ban the paper as a reference source.

The Express headline was more straightforward although no less hysterical. The paper went with SCANDAL OF OPEN BORDERS: 1 IN 9 WORKERS ARE MIGRANTS.

The scandal presumably being that the actual number of migrant workers in the UK is much lower than readers had been led to believe, given that Ipsos Mori polls have found that people in the UK (wrongly) believe that migrants make up 24% of the population.

The Express went on to blame the whole thing on EU freedom of movement – despite the fact that figures include all of the non-EU workers in the UK too – and the paper then did its usual thing of quoting a few UKIP and Brexit-supporting Conservative politicians outraged at the whole situation.

It’s the same cycle over and over. The tabloids jump at any opportunity to twist the facts and demonise migrants from both inside and outside the EU. Then there will be a horrific racist attack like the one on the asylum seeker in Croydon the other week and they’ll wonder how it could possibly happen.

Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.


NHS surgery

The Tory press strikes again. Last week, the Daily Mail put out misinformation about the so-called NHS ‘weekend effect’, contradicting the very research that it was reporting on.

The paper was reporting on research from Bristol University that examined evidence of the ‘weekend effect’ – the supposed effect on mortality levels of people admitted to hospital at weekends – by analysing data on patients admitted at weekends with hip fractures.

The research clearly found that there was no evidence of a ‘weekend effect’ among a quarter of a million NHS patients admitted with a broken hip between 2011-14.

Yet the Daily Mail reported using the headline ‘NHS ‘weekend effect’ IS Real’.

The paper went onto write that ‘Patients with broken hips are 10% more likely to DIE if they have surgery on a Sunday’. It also reported on a link between discharges on a Sunday and increased risk of death.

But the ‘weekend effect’, which has been repeatedly used by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt in the dispute with junior doctors, is about mortality rates of those ADMITTED to hospital at weekends. It’s not about those discharged or having surgery on a Sunday.

The study did find that there is a 10% increased risk of mortality for those having surgery on a Sunday, along with a 52% increased mortality risk for those discharged on a Sunday and a 17% increased risk with out-of-hours discharge.

These are admittedly important findings. Adrian Sayers, the lead author on the research paper, stated that ‘the analysis has brought up questions of the importance of timing of surgery, how surgery on a Sunday differs from the rest of the week’.

But these are separate findings from those on weekend admissions, as the research makes clear. Hospitals have more control over surgery and discharge times than they do over admissions, meaning they can plan more effectively around such findings.

They also relate to one day – Sunday – rather than the weekend as a whole.

So why did the Mail have to twist and manipulate the findings? Why didn’t it accurately reflect the university press release on the study?

It could be that the ‘weekend effect’ issue has become a highly contentious one in the dispute between the government and the junior doctors. The paper has repeatedly sided with the government during the dispute and has published numerous attacks on the doctors and the British Medical Association for their plans to strike.

Interestingly, another major study at Edinburgh University has just found that weekend surgery has no affect on mortality rates. How did the Daily Mail report on this study? It buried the information away in two sentences at the end of the article on the Bristol study.

Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.


mail pilot

Taken from the Daily Mail Clarifications & Corrections column, 24th March 2017. 

Following publication of an article on MailOnline on 25 October 2016, headlined “Pilot in DIY 14-foot plane he built in his shed is halted at Chinese border after being ruled a MILITARY THREAT during round-the-world trip”, Colin Hales complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that MailOnline breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice. The complaint was upheld, and IPSO required MailOnline to publish this adjudication.

The article reported that on the complainant’s bid to fly solo around the world in an aircraft he had built himself, he had been halted by Chinese officials at the Russian border who said the he “posed a serious aerial threat to the nation”. The article claimed that the complainant had been “halted by armed guards on the border with Russia”, and contained a number of quotations from the complainant, in which he expressed his frustration at having been stopped.

The complainant denied making the comments expressing frustration at the decision of the Chinese authorities. In addition, he said it was inaccurate to report that he had been stopped by “armed guards”.

The publication said that the article was supplied by a freelance journalist, and it had published it in good faith. It said that the article had been based on information posted on the internet, and on a source, who had supplied quotations from the complainant, having said that they had been in contact with him. However, it did not provide further details about its sources. The publication of information obtained in this manner as a series of direct quotations from the complainant, without any steps being taken to verify them, constituted a serious failure take care over the accuracy of the article, and a breach of Clause 1 (i). The claim that the complainant was stopped by armed guards was the conjecture of the journalist. However, this was presented as a factual claim, and was not clearly distinguished from conjecture, in further breach of Clause 1 (i) and a breach of Clause 1 (iv).

Attributing the disputed quotations to the complainant was significantly misleading, such as to require correction under the terms of Clause 1 (ii). The principal subject of the article was the complainant’s difficulty in entering Chinese airspace; to claim that the complainant had been “halted by armed guards”, when in fact, he had simply been denied permission to enter Chinese airspace, significantly misrepresented the nature of the incident. This was a further significant inaccuracy.

In this case the publication had offered to publish a correction which met the requirements of Clause 1 (ii), and the inaccuracies in this case were not personally damaging to the complainant. However, the Committee was concerned by the severity of the breach of Clause 1 (i) in this instance, which represented a serious failure in the editorial process prior to publication. It considered that the publication of the offered correction would not be an appropriate remedy to this failure, and that the appropriate remedy was publication of this adjudication.

Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.


katie hopkins

Few people would have been expecting Katie Hopkins to write anything sensible, rational, comforting or inspiring when she sat down to pen her Daily Mail column following the dreadful terror attack in Westminster yesterday. But the diatribe that appeared in today’s edition was utterly nuts even by her mad standards.

Katie started out by claiming that she felt ‘no anger’ and ‘no rage’ following what happened. She is beyond all that now, she wanted readers to know. Instead, she feels only exasperation and a hopeless resignation about the state of things.

However, this didn’t stop her going off on one. Uncontrollably so. She lashed out all over the place. Bizarrely, the one person who never received a tongue-bashing in the article was the actual culprit. The killer. The individual whose deranged actions caused the deaths of three innocent people.

No, he seemingly wasn’t to blame or at fault. Instead, Ms Hopkins let rip at a range of other figures and factors she felt were more deserving of her ire in a truly incoherent rant.

The first ones to cop it were, bafflingly, all the citizens of London who defiantly believe that this sort of cowardly and despicable behaviour will not beat them or get the better of them. They were quickly dismissed as ‘glib idiots’.

hopkins 1

Having dealt with all of the losers standing firm in the face of terror this side of the Channel, she turned her attention to Brussels and had a go at citizens who had gathered to commemorate the victims of the terror attacks there one year on. How dare they stand with their pathetic message of love and hope, when evil was about to happen a few hundred miles away!

hopkins 2

Then she moved onto the values of tolerance, liberalism and multiculturalism. All of them clearly to blame for everything. Some of us may have been under the illusion that these are things that characterise a healthy modern democracy, but apparently they’ve reduced London to a ‘city of monkeys’.

hopkins 3

Then, obviously, it was time to stick the boot into immigrants and immigration. Despite the fact that the killer was a British citizen born in Kent. Sod these facts, let’s have a go at Afghans and Somalis and Eritreans who all hate each other, we are told.

hopkins 4

This dovetailed nicely into an attack on Sadiq Khan who, we are reminded, is a Muslim mayor so clearly unfit for the job. It was obviously only a matter of time before one of his Muslim mates brought terror to the city. He’ll no doubt try and perk everyone up with a message of hope, the useless idiot.

hopkins 5

She’s on a roll now is Katie. What’s left to attack? Maybe the murderer who ended the lives of these three people? A few words of condemnation for him, perhaps? Nah, let’s throw in a dig at Sweden instead. Another bunch of useless liberal multicultural losers bringing this terrorism crap on themselves.

hopkins 6

And finally, time for a swipe at Muslims. Of course. Because this lunatic who drove a car at people and then stabbed a policeman to death, he and his ilk are not extremists. They’re just more committed Muslims. When will we wake up and realise that we need to blame the whole religion rather than the individuals who commit atrocities in the name of it?

hopkins 7

So she hates liberalism, tolerance and multiculturalism, mocks people who stand defiant in the face of terror and thinks that terrorist attackers are ‘more true to their beliefs’. Can someone please explain to me the difference between Katie Hopkins and ISIS?

Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.



Trust the Daily Mail to cynically use the death of a political figure for its own ends.

The former IRA terrorist turned politician and peace process negotiator (pictured) died on Monday night. His death was followed by tributes from a range of political figures from Britain, Northern Ireland and even the US.

Most were careful to say that, while you can’t overlook or condone his involvement in terror attacks from his past, you have to acknowledge the role he played in the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland in 1998.

Tributes were paid to McGuinness from, among others, Prime Minister Theresa May, Tony Blair, former US president Bill Clinton and DUP leader Arlene Foster. Even the Queen, who shook McGuinness’ hand in 2012, sent a message of support to his widow.

Yet despite the fact that figures from across the political spectrum paid their respects, the Daily Mail chose to single out Jeremy Corbyn and the BBC and criticise them as if they were terrorist sympathisers.

The paper has repeatedly stuck the boot into left-winger Corbyn ever since he became Labour leader and has become more and more critical of the BBC in the months since the EU referendum, viewing the corporation as being biased towards the liberal ‘remainer’ attitudes it dislikes so much.

The article singling out Corbyn noted the public ‘fury’ (i.e. a few people outraged on Twitter) at his ‘warm tribute for IRA killer’.

The paper tried to imply that the ‘glowing’ tribute was fawning and one-sided. But the full statement released by Corbyn acknowledged that McGuinness had spent ‘years as a key protagonist in the tragedy of the conflict’.

The article on the Beeb was even more desperate, little more than an exercise in trawling through Twitter to find a handful of people criticising the news coverage.

One tweeter was quoted as saying the BBC were treating McGuinness ‘like he was on par with Nelson Mandela’. The irony being that Mandela himself was denounced by the Daily Mail, who wrote at the time of the concert to mark his 70th birthday while in jail in 1988: ‘The ANC and its leader Nelson Mandela have no more claim to be saints or heroes than do the Provisional IRA with their lynch mobs and car bombers’.

As the Daily Mail has so clearly tried to manipulate the death of McGuinness to stick the boot in, it seems like a good time to remind people once again that the paper once openly supported fascism and was owned by a man who was a personal friend of Adolf Hitler.


Daily Mail article from 1934 (above) by founder and owner at the time Lord Rothermere (pictured below with Adolf Hitler)


Not exactly in the best position to try and take the moral high ground on these issues, then.

Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.


glasgow high court

(Glasgow High Court. Copyright Stephen Sweeney)

The Sun has labelled an innocent 21-year-old man a child rapist in a typically sensationalist report on a court case in Glasgow this week.

The tabloid’s headline was the worst of a sorry bunch concerning the court case of Polish-born student Daniel Cieslak, who had consensual sex aged 19 with a 12-year-old girl who he believed to be 16.

The girl in question has never claimed that the sex was non-consensual. However, she confided to her sister a few days later that she was worried she might be pregnant and her GP told her to contact the police. Cieslak, who broke down in tears when told by the police of the girl’s true age, pleaded guilty to rape as girls under 13 are considered by the law to be too young to give consent. However, he maintained the sex was consensual.

He was found not guilty of rape after the judge considered the evidence, which included the fact that all witnesses to the case and the police believed that the girl was aged at least 16 by appearance, and that the girl has never claimed the sex was non-consensual and had shown no signs of distress or concern at any time.

The judge also said that there was no suggestion of ‘predatory conduct or grooming or manipulation or deception’.

However, this didn’t stop The Sun covering the story with the headline ‘CHILD RAPIST WALKS FREE’, writing that ‘man who admits raping schoolgirl, 12, walks free from court because he thought she was 16’.

The Sun was not alone with its misleading clickbait-style headline, it was merely the worst offender. The Daily Mail, the Telegraph, the Metro, the Daily Mirror and the Independent all went with headlines that misleadingly state that Cieslak raped or admitted raping the girl.

A number of the articles led with the angle of ‘over-lenient judge allows rapist to go free’. But, whatever the wrongs of getting yourself into the position of having sex with someone of that age (no matter how old they look), to treat the guy as a sex offender who gets to walk free because of silly liberal judges is to completely misreport the story.

Cieslak met the girl and her friend in 2015 at a taxi rank in Edinburgh at 4am after a night out. The three then went to a house party together where Cieslak and the girl ended up having sex.

The judge said that Cieslak had been ‘subject to considerable pressure and distress from the burden of this prosecution’. He dropped out of a architectural engineering course at Napier University as a result of the stress.

No doubt seeing his name in the likes of The Sun next to headlines saying ‘child rapist’ is just what he needs as he tries to put it all behind him and get on with his life.

Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.



(Image: Getty)

On Saturday, the Daily Express published an article titled EU THREAT TO PENSIONS. Subtitled ‘Mass migration blamed for £30 billion a YEAR ‘economic catastrophe”, the article is based on a report produced by Brexit think tank Global Britain.

Both article and report make the claim that, contrary to received wisdom that the UK needs an influx of workers to support its growing pension system, economic migration from the EU is actually costing the UK economy £30 billion a year.

The report is the latest in the ‘Brexit Papers’ series published by Global Britain and is titled ‘How The £30 Billion Cost of EU Migration Imperils Pensions and Benefits’. The subtitle is ‘Why leaving the single market is vital for our public finances and to secure our pensions and benefits’.

The report raises some valid points about large corporations effectively exploiting EU freedom of movement rules, as well as countries like the UK, by setting up outlets staffed by low-paid migrant workers. It also mentions (but doesn’t make enough of an issue about) the cost to the UK economy of corporation tax avoidance due to large companies basing their HQ elsewhere in Europe.

But the claim that EU migration costs the UK £30 billion a year is based on some very shaky arithmetic. It’s based on rough figures of 3 million EU migrants in the UK in total – 2 million working and 1 million non-working.

But what author Bob Lyddon has done is take the average UK public spending per head of £10,500 per annum and multiply it by 3 million. He’s then taken off what he sees as the annual tax contribution of EU migrants which he’s calculated as £1 billion. This gives him his balance of £30 billion.

There are a few problems with this:

  • You can’t use UK public spending per head in analysis like this. Aside from the fact that different groups will use disproportionate amounts of certain budgets (e.g. children in education, pensioners with pensions, health and social care), not all public spending is spent on services accessible to the public (e.g. £45billion annual defence spending, £50billion annual debt interest payments). These amounts are not affected by increases or decreases in population.

  • The contribution of EU migrants is based on the assumption that all 2 million working migrants are in low-paid work and are paying hardly any tax due to the minimum earnings tax threshold. Mr Lyddon uses a figure of £500 annual tax paid per head, which is ridiculously low. Although a lot of migrants, including EU migrants, are in low-paid jobs, there are also many skilled EU workers such as professors, city workers, lawyers, doctors, technicians, etc. who will be paying top rates of tax. They are completely overlooked in the analysis.

  • It is also casually assumed that these 2 million low-paid workers pay no tax in the form of TV license, fuel duty, alcohol tax, tobacco tax, council tax, etc. This is dismissed with a comment that low-paid workers aren’t in a position to make much of a contribution here. So we are to assume that all 2 million EU workers live a life of abstinence, don’t own TVs and are all facing impending jail sentences due to non-payment of council tax.

  • Even if it were true that all 2 million working EU migrants were in such low paid work that they were unable to make much of a tax contribution, this is a problem of low pay and not of migration. This was a problem in the UK long before EU open borders and could well get worse if worker rights aren’t guaranteed after Brexit.

In these heated times of half-truths, untruths, post-truths and alternative facts, we could do with some robust economic analysis to give us a bit of grounding. But this is not it. Figures clearly manipulated to fit a predetermined conclusion and the report used by the Express as yet another stick with which to beat the EU and migrants.

Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.