THE SUN’S INVESTIGATION INTO FOSTERING REVEALS ONE THING – THE PAPER IS HELLBENT ON STIRRING UP RACISM

You may remember the furore caused by the press (mainly The Times and the Daily Mail) back in the summer over the case of a Christian child in Tower Hamlets being placed with Muslim foster carers and allegedly being stopped from eating pork or wearing a crucifix.

You may also remember that a subsequent inquiry into the case rejected the press claims, seemingly putting the whole sorry episode to bed.

Well, the issue has sort of reared its head again. The Sun, clearly spotting an opportunity to stir up a bit of trouble, decided to carry out an ‘investigation’ of its own. For no apparent reason other than to try and make a story where there was none, it’s gathered up information from across the country on mixed faith fostering cases.

It presented the results in an article earlier this week which it claimed highlights a ‘crisis of faith’. The story, which appeared in Thursday’s edition of the paper as an ‘exclusive’ by Tom Wells, carried the headline ‘101 CHRISTIAN CHILDREN FOSTERED BY MUSLIMS’.

sun muslim foster care

There are four things worth noting about this.

Number one, why is the headline focusing on the number of Christian children fostered by Muslims when the number of Muslim children fostered by Christians is nearly four times greater? The 394 Muslim children fostered by Christians are mentioned in the sub-header – almost as if the paper is proud of the prejudicial way in which it is presenting the information – but are then edited out of the article altogether.

Someone obviously had a word with The Sun about this as within 24 hours the paper had edited the headline to the online article.

sun foster caring

Number two, the information is taken from 73 councils across England. So that works out as between 6 and 7 cases per council on average (just over one Christian child with Muslims and just over five Muslim children with Christians per council). Or, to put it another way, there are approximately 50,000 foster children in England, so the total number of cases highlighted here are less than 1%. If we focus purely on the cases of Christian children placed with Muslim foster carers (which are the ones that The Sun is trying to make its readers outraged about), it works out at around 0.2% of all fostering cases.

The Sun tries to make something out of the fact that just over half of the councils approached didn’t provide figures, saying that ‘the true total is likely to be far higher’. But even if that were to be true, it’s not going to amount to a particularly large number of cases when you put it into an overall perspective.

Number three, the paper frames its investigation within the context of the Tower Hamlets case. But although it broadly reports the claims that initially appeared in the press, there is no mention of the inquiry that rejected these claims because there was no evidence to support them. Why is the paper reporting on baseless claims as fact?

Number four, who cares if foster children are placed with carers who happen to be of a different religion, as long as they’re being cared for properly? By making a story out of this, The Sun is implying that there’s something unacceptable about fostering children from a different cultural background.

Of course, efforts should be made to find the most suitable carers for a child. But there is currently a shortage of foster carers in this country, with the Fostering Network stating recently that over 7,000 new carers are urgently needed to meet demand. In these circumstances, of course there are going to be instances where children end up being placed with people from different backgrounds.

If The Sun and its journalists had any interest in the plight of foster children, they would focus on highlighting this shortage and encouraging people to become foster carers. Instead they publish sensationalist drivel to stir up Islamophobia, which only serves to denigrate foster caring. Irresponsible journalism at its very worst.

Don’t like what you’re seeing in the press? If you see an article you’re unhappy with, you can email the press regulators at inquiries@ipso.co.uk to voice your concerns. If enough complaints are received, they will have to look into it.

Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.

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TEN SHAMEFUL MOMENTS FROM THE SUN’S PAST

In honour of the fact that The Sun seems to be so keen on digging through people’s social media histories to find any old tweets or Facebook posts that can be used against them, this blog thought it would be a good time to trawl through the paper’s own past to dredge up some misdemeanours that make silly offensive tweets from ten years ago look like child’s play.

Now, of course we are all aware of the shameful lies told about Liverpool football fans in the wake of the Hillsborough tragedy. Lies that mean that to this day, the paper is not sold in newsagents throughout the city.

hillsborough

But here are nine other episodes from The Sun’s history that the paper would probably prefer weren’t mentioned. It’s something you can share with others the next time you feel that The Sun needs a taste of its own medicine.

 

THE TIME WHEN IT REJOICED IN THE SINKING OF AN ARGENTINIAN SHIP

gotcha

The Sun‘s jingoistic coverage of the 1982 Falklands War reached a peak (or nadir) when the Argentinian General Belgrano ship was torpedoed and sunk while outside the 200 mile exclusion zone and reportedly sailing back to port. The paper’s front page headline read GOTCHA. It emerged that nearly 400 people were killed in the strike. Sun owner Rupert Murdoch was reportedly against changing the headline and toning down the reporting for later editions once the casualties were known.

 

THE TIME WHEN IT REFERRED TO AIDS AS THE GAY PLAGUE

sun gay plague

Throughout much of the 80s, The Sun and its sister paper the (now defunct) News of the World repeatedly referred to the AIDs virus as the ‘gay plague’ and were among the main culprits spreading misinformation and hearsay about the disease. In 1989, the paper published an article titled STRAIGHT SEX CANNOT GIVE YOU AIDS – OFFICIAL and claimed the idea that heterosexuals also caught HIV was ‘homosexual propaganda’. The press regulators criticised the paper for ‘gross distortion’ but the punishment was a measly apology printed on page 28 (sound familiar?).

 

THE TIME WHEN IT CLAIMED ASYLUM SEEKERS WERE EATING SWANS

swan bake

In 2003, the paper ran with a front page story headlined SWAN BAKE, claiming ‘callous asylum seekers are barbecuing the queen’s swans’. Although the story was supposedly based on an official Metropolitan Police report, it turned out that there was no record of any such offence. Again The Sun was sanctioned by the regulators but a mealy-mouthed clarification on page 41 was its only punishment.

 

THE TIME WHEN IT RAN A FEATURE CALLED ‘THE POOFS OF POP’

The Sun regularly ran homophobic pieces throughout the 1980s, speculating on which celebrities might be gay and looking to ‘out’ people with slurry headlines where it could. When EastEnders broadcast the first soap gay kiss, the paper published a front page story titled EASTBENDERS.

‘The Poofs of Pop’ was an 80s feature where Piers Morgan and Peter Willis speculated on whether various male pop stars were gay or not and spent their time hassling agents for a confession. According to Morgan, Sun editor at the time Kelvin Mackenzie was obsessed with people’s sexuality. ‘He generally thought that anyone who played a ‘dodgy sport’ – i.e. not football or boxing – spoke in a posh accent, sang pop music or just walked in a funny way was ‘as bent as a nine bob note’. And his staff were encouraged to share his suspicions rather than commit professional and medical suicide by challenging them.’

 

THE TIME WHEN IT HACKED THE PHONES OF RELATIVES OF MURDER VICTIMS

news of the world

Let’s not forget that employees of the News of the World, which was the sister Sunday paper of The Sun until its closure in 2011, hacked into the phones of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, relatives of dead British soldiers and victims of the 7 July London bombings. Worth remembering this little nugget next time you see a Sun scoop on someone’s old tweets where they’re found to have used an offensive word once.

 

THE TIME WHEN IT RIDICULED MENTAL ILLNESS

bonkers bruno

In 2003, the paper covered the story of Frank Bruno’s deteriorating mental health with the sensitive front page headline BONKERS BRUNO LOCKED UP. Following public criticism, the headline in the later edition of the paper was changed to SAD BRUNO IN MENTAL HOME.

 

THE TIME WHEN RUPERT MURDOCH WAS CAUGHT TAX DODGING

The Sun may revel in reporting that the likes of Gary Lineker or Lewis Hamilton have been caught up in tax avoidance schemes, but as far back as 2001 an investigation into News Corp found that it had avoided £350 million in corporation tax over an 11 year period.

 

THE TIME WHEN IT PAID £22K TO A POLICEMAN FOR INFORMATION

In 2015, Sun reporter Anthony France was found guilty of buying 43 stories from PC Timothy Edwards for £22,000 between 2008 and 2011. Thirty-eight of the stories were published in the paper. Edwards pleaded guilty to committing misconduct in a public office in 2014 and was jailed for two years.

 

THE TIME WHEN IT COMPARED MIGRANTS TO COCKROACHES

katie-hopkin-article1

In 2015, columnist Katie Hopkins called migrants crossing the Mediterranean ‘cockroaches’ who were ‘spreading like the norovirus’. She advocated using gunships rather than rescue boats to deal with them. Her comments led to the UN High Commission for Human Rights making a statement in which it compared Hopkins’ language to that used by Rwandan reporters to stoke up hatred in the run up to the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Don’t like what you’re seeing in the press? If you see an article you’re unhappy with, you can email the press regulators at inquiries@ipso.co.uk to voice your concerns. If enough complaints are received, they will have to look into it.

Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.

NIGEL FARAGE PASSES TABLOID JOURNALISM ENTRANCE EXAM

farage

Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage is celebrating today after successfully passing his tabloid journalism entrance exam by being caught smearing an anti-fascist campaign group.

Mr Farage withdrew a claim made last December that anti-racist organisation Hope Not Hate were ‘violent and undemocratic’ after being sued for libel and threatened with a court case. He issued a statement today saying he is ‘perfectly happy to acknowledge that Hope Not Hate does not pursue violent or undemocratic behaviour’.

The Sun and the Daily Mail and now understood to be in a battle to sign the controversial politician as a political reporter.

‘He made up his own facts about a group he doesn’t like and only retracted them months later after being forced to by legal proceedings’, said Sun political writer Tim Newton-Dick. ‘This is exactly the sort of thing we look for in a journalist. With his profile, track record of shit-stirring and propensity for accusing the BBC of left-wing bias, we could probably start him on a salary of around £125k.’

But the paper is under stiff competition from rival the Daily Mail, who also hinted that they would be prepared to offer a six-figure sum.

‘I’ve always said that if the Daily Mail could somehow be turned into a politician, it would be Nigel Farage’, said political editor Izzy Oakfield. ‘His slippery conduct throughout this case has confirmed this, right down to him saying he’s perfectly happy to acknowledge he was wrong. We at the Mail always say we’re happy to make things clear in our retractions. It’s nice to smuggle a small piece of bullshit into a correction.’

‘If he could have got away with issuing his statement at the bottom of page 17 in our paper rather than announcing it publicly, it would have been perfect’, she added.

Don’t like what you’re seeing in the press? If you see an article you’re unhappy with, you can email the press regulators at inquiries@ipso.co.uk to voice your concerns. If enough complaints are received, they will have to look into it.

Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.

COMEDIANS ARE MAKING TOO MANY JOKES ABOUT THE GOVERNMENT, SAYS SUN NEWSPAPER

HIGNFY_set_empty

The Sun has once again accused the BBC of left-wing bias, saying that comedians on topical news quiz Have I Got News For You are making too many jokes about the government.

With Theresa May’s bumbling administration becoming more of an ‘omnishambles’ each day, many folk may feel that comics are simply doing their job by pointing out the ridiculousness of what’s going on and laughing about it.

Not The Sun, which has penned an article titled ‘LEFTY BIAS: BBC’S HAVE I GOT NEWS FOR YOU HAS A SKEWED VIEW AND MAKES FIVE TIMES MORE JOKES ABOUT THE TORIES THAN LABOUR’.

This revelation comes after the paper conducted ‘research’ into the first five episodes of the current series and found that – shock horror – 139 jokes have been made about the Tories compared to only 28 against Labour.

Some people might put this down to the fact that one of the main objectives of satirical comedy is to ridicule those in power, and that the government of the day is always likely to take more shots than the opposition. Look back at old HIGNFY episodes from the Labour government years and you will see that they were the butt of more jokes than the Tories back then.

Others might also point out that, during the five weeks since the current series started, the government has been beset by mishaps ripe for comedy – from Theresa May’s disastrous party conference to losing two cabinet ministers within a week – while Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour has been relatively quiet.

But not The Sun. The paper wheels out Tory MPs Andrew Bridgen and Jacob Rees-Mogg to claim this is evidence of ‘left-wing propaganda’ and that Ofcom should intervene.

They seem to be forgetting that this is comedians making jokes, not serious news or current affairs. If the Tory party doesn’t want to be ridiculed so much, it should stop behaving in a laughable and ridiculous manner.

But there is a more serious and worrying undercurrent to this article and such attacks on satirical output. The Sun seems to be advocating a restriction on the free speech of comedians who target the government. One of the great things about this country is the freedom to poke fun at those most powerful without fear of sanction. We shouldn’t allow a tabloid newspaper, whose own output is ironically so bad that it seems like satire more often than not, to threaten that.

Don’t like what you’re seeing in the press? If you see an article you’re unhappy with, you can email the press regulators at inquiries@ipso.co.uk to voice your concerns. If enough complaints are received, they will have to look into it.

Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.

NEARLY 18 MONTHS AFTER THE BREXIT VOTE, THE SUN STILL CAN’T TELL THE TRUTH ABOUT OUR EU BILL

brexit flags

The Sun has misused figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and put out more misinformation about Britain’s annual payments to the EU.

It’s not the first time that the paper has failed to report honestly and accurately on statistics, something which has led it to be voted bottom in a recent public survey on trust and accuracy in UK media outlets.

Reporting on figures released earlier this week by the ONS about the UK’s contribution to the EU budget in 2016, the paper wrote that the bill was £13.9 billion after the rebate.

In an article headlined ‘PUT THAT ON A BUS’, it reported that ‘Boris Johnson WAS wrong to say we face EU bill of £350 million a week… because it’s actually £363 million, official figures reveal’.

Except that neither of these figures is the final bill at all. The net contribution was calculated as being £9.4 billion a year (around £180 million a week) once public sector credits were accounted for. This was reduced further to £8.1 billion (around £156 million a week) if private sector credits (e.g. funding for university research) is taken into account.

The £363 million a week that The Sun is so keen to use in its headline is the gross contribution. But as the ONS makes clear in its report, ‘this amount of money was never actually transferred to the EU’. Read the report and download the full data here.

Don’t like what you’re seeing in the press? If you see an article you’re unhappy with, you can email the press regulators at inquiries@ipso.co.uk to voice your concerns. If enough complaints are received, they will have to look into it.

Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.

 

 

ACCORDING TO THE DAILY MAIL, NEWS REPORTERS CONCERNED WITH TRUTH AND ACCURACY ARE A ‘LEFT-WING MOUTHPIECE’

Lord_Nigel_Lawson_(cropped)

The Daily Mail has published a revealing article where it suggests that fact-based reporting is left-wing.

The article appeared this week and was another predictable attack on the BBC. It concerned an apology made by the BBC for allowing remarks made by Lord Lawson (pictured) on climate change to go unchallenged.

Lord Lawson, who is dismissive of the concept of global warming, appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Today show in August where he made the claim that global temperatures have not risen over the last decade. This is in contrast with data from climate change scientists that shows how average temperatures have been slowly increasing.

The show received complaints at the time from listeners concerned that nobody on the programme had taken issue with the statement. The BBC initially defended its position on impartiality grounds, claiming that the other side of the argument needed to be heard (even if not entirely fact-based) and that Lord Lawson’s stance ‘is reflected, for example, in the current US administration which has distanced itself from the Paris Agreement.’

However, after an executive complaints unit review, the corporation admitted that it had breached its own editorial guidelines on accuracy and that Lord Lawson’s comments ‘were, at the least, contestable and should have been challenged’.

Step forward the Daily Mail whose response the the Beeb U-turn was that it was yet more evidence of the BBC’s (yawn) lefty bias. In its article titled ‘BBC IS ACCUSED OF BEING A ‘LEFT-WING MOUTHPIECE’ AFTER GROVELLING APOLOGY FOR FAILING TO CHALLENGE LORD LAWSON OVER INTERVIEW CLAIM THAT TEMPERATURES HAVEN’T RISEN IN PAST DECADE’, the paper quoted a couple of disgruntled Tory MPs who were seemingly unconcerned with accuracy standards of our public broadcaster and more interested in moaning that the ‘typical BBC’ had caved in to pressure from ‘left-wing cheerleaders’.

But the odd thing is the Mail then went on to print the scientific evidence against Lord Lawson’s arguments at the end of the article. It displayed a graph from four major international science institutions demonstrating global warming…

nasa graph

along with evidence of scientific experts refuting Lord Lawson’s claims

lawson v experts

So the paper admits that Lord Lawson is talking out of his a**e. Yet it criticises the BBC for admitting it was wrong in failing to challenge him.

Most sensible people might think that scientific data and evidence-based research is beyond concerns of ‘left-wing’ and ‘right-wing’ and that it is more about producing accurate results and improving knowledge regardless of politics. As such, the BBC was surely right to issue an apology in these circumstances for allowing its standards to slip.

Not the Daily Mail. Despite acknowledging that Lord Lawson’s views contradict the bulk of peer-reviewed evidence, the paper seems to equate refuting them with left-wing bias. Along with its witch-hunt of university lecturers over Brexit this week, the paper is doing a good job of presenting itself as the enemy of academia. The paper of choice for the anti-intellectual.

Still, good news for the left. I’m sure they’ll be delighted with these efforts to associate them with high journalistic standards on truth and accuracy.

Don’t like what you’re seeing in the press? If you see an article you’re unhappy with, you can email the press regulators at inquiries@ipso.co.uk to voice your concerns. If enough complaints are received, they will have to look into it.

Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.

MEARS GROUP COMPLAINT AGAINST THE TIMES UPHELD BY IPSO

times paper

*The following text is reprinted from The Times and IPSO rulings.

Following an article published by The Times on 21 February 2017, headlined “Police to investigate Glasgow corruption” in the Scottish edition of the newspaper and online, Mears Group PLC complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that The Times breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice. IPSO upheld the complaint and has required The Times to publish this decision as a remedy to the breach.

The article reported that “police are being called in to investigate allegations of corruption and cronyism at Scotland’s largest local authority”, Glasgow City Council (GCC). The article reported that Mears’ ties to the council “are being examined – along with a number of other firms – by the authority’s chief internal auditor”. The article went on to report that “a council source confirmed that ties with Mears and a number of other firms were being looked at by the council’s internal auditor”. It reported that a spokesperson for the complainant had said that it did not have any current contracts with the council department concerned, and that “people are entitled to have whatever friendships they want outside of work, provided they do not impact on any professional business”.

The complainant said that it had been confirmed by both Police Scotland and GCC that there was no investigation taking place involving Mears. The complainant had also not been given the opportunity to deny the allegation that it was the subject of an internal investigation by GCC auditors.

The Times said that it understood from a senior source within GCC that Mears featured, or had featured, in its investigation. It said that while the council’s official position was that it could not share any information with the newspaper, the GCC provided its journalist with sufficient reassurance to be confident in the accuracy of the claim that the complainant’s dealings with the council were being examined by the internal auditor. It said that the journalist was told that the provision of this information was authorised by the then leadership of the council.

The newspaper said that it contacted the complainant prior to publication. It had not specifically asked whether Mears was the subject of an investigation. The statement it received in response was published in the article.

The newspaper had failed to put the specific claim to the complainant that its ties to the council were the subject of an investigation. As a result, the complainant was unaware that this would form part of the published allegations against it. It was therefore not in a position to include its denial of this point in its response.

In these circumstances, the failure to put to the complainant the allegation that it was under investigation was a failure to take care over the accuracy of the article and a breach of Clause 1 (i).

Reporting this as fact – and in combination with the statement from Mears which consequently did not deny this – was significantly misleading. The newspaper had not offered to publish any clarification in response to the complaint; this was a breach of Clause 1 (ii).

Don’t like what you’re seeing in the press? If you see an article you’re unhappy with, you can email the press regulators at inquiries@ipso.co.uk to voice your concerns. If enough complaints are received, they will have to look into it.

Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.