IPSO RULING: DAILY MAIL MADE TO APOLOGISE FOR NOT FACT-CHECKING STORY SUPPLIED BY FREELANCE JOURNALIST

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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 HAS FULL-ON MELTDOWN IN DAILY MAIL COLUMN ON WESTMINSTER ATTACK

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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’.

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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!

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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’.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

DAILY MAIL USES MARTIN McGUINNESS DEATH TO SCORE POLITICAL POINTS

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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.

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

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

Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.

THE SUN LABELS INNOCENT MAN A CHILD RAPIST

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(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.

THE SHAKY ANALYSIS THAT LED THE EXPRESS TO CLAIM EU MIGRANTS COST US £30 BILLION A YEAR

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(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.

IPSO RULING: SUN MISUSED HOME OFFICE STATS ON ADULT MIGRANTS AND FAILED TO CORRECT PROMPTLY

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Reprinted from The Sun corrections column, 24th February 2017. Original available here.

Following the publication of an article headlined “Trevor Kavanagh: Gary Lineker forgets that we’re not racist – we just don’t like being conned”, Miqdaad Versi complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that The Sun breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice.

IPSO’s Complaints Committee upheld the complaint, and has required The Sun to publish this adjudication online.

The article was a comment piece in which the columnist discussed the migrant camp in Calais and his concern that refugees were lying about their age in order to gain access to Britain. He said that Home Office figures had shown that “two out of three of those elbowing their way to the front of the queue are lying about their age”.

The complainant said two out of three refugees seeking asylum had not been found to have lied about their age, as reported.

In fact, out of 3,472 asylum claims received, 933 individuals had their ages checked, and 636 were found to be adults, which represented 18.3 per cent of the total. While a correction had been published in print, the online article had not been corrected.

The newspaper accepted that an error had been made in relation to Home Office statistics.

Due to an oversight, a correction was not initially published online. When it was alerted to this, a correction was appended to the online article and published in the online Clarifications and Corrections section.

However, the publication did not correct the references to the statistics because it considered it “inappropriate” to amend the columnist’s actual words, and it argued that the correction made the factual position clear.

However, during IPSO’s investigation, it amended the inaccurate references to the Home Office statistics, which had appeared in the subheading, as a caption and in the text.

The Committee considered that the misinterpreted statistics had given a significantly misleading impression of the number of asylum seekers who had incorrectly said they were children in order to gain refuge.

It also represented a central point, which the columnist had relied upon, to support his position that there had been an “abysmal failure” on behalf of the Border Force and immigration authorities to address the issue.

The inaccuracy had been given greater emphasis in the online article as it had been repeated three times, including in the subheading. This represented a failure to take care over the accuracy of the article in breach of Clause 1 (i). A correction was required in order to avoid a breach of Clause 1 (ii).

While the newspaper had promptly corrected the inaccuracy in print, it had failed to do so online. Given that the inaccuracy clearly related to an assertion of fact, the Committee rejected the newspaper’s reasoning for the delay. The newspaper had failed to correct a significant inaccuracy promptly in breach of Clause 1(ii).  The complaint under Clause 1 was upheld.

Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.

NOT FIT FOR FACTS: 20 TIMES THE DAILY MAIL WROTE RUBBISH IN THE PAST YEAR

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Yesterday, the editors of the Wikipedia website voted to ban the Daily Mail as a source for referencing in its articles, citing the paper’s ‘reputation for poor fact-checking, sensationalism and flat-out fabrication’.

To commemorate this long-overdue decision, I’ve decided to delve into the Tabloid Corrections archive to find 20 separate occasions when the Daily Mail was caught spouting bulls**t in the past 12 months.

*CLICK ON HEADLINES TO ACCESS STORIES

  1. DAILY MAIL MISLEADS ON STORY ABOUT CHARITY PROJECT FOR REFUGEES

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(Photo: Adam Patterson/Panos/DFID)

The paper slurs a charity project for unaccompanied child refugees as a ‘jolly up’ at the taxpayer’s expense.

  1. WHY THE DAILY MAIL ARTICLE ON LONDON IMMIGRATION IS COMPLETE RUBBISH

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The paper misrepresents a book about immigrants in London to make false claims about London’s migrant community

  1. LESSONS IN TABLOID SPIN: HOW THE DAILY MAIL LIED ABOUT AN EU STUDY

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Statistics are cherry-picked from an EU study to paint a false picture about migrants and refugees in London

  1. THE DOCTOR WHO REPORTED THE MUSLIM SURGEON: THE TRUTH ABOUT HIS SUSPENSION

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The paper was one of a number of tabloids falsely reporting that a doctor had been suspended for asking a female colleague to remove her hijab before an operation.

  1. TABLOID PRESS REPORTS ON BEGGARS MAKING £43K A YEAR, BUT WHERE DID THEY GET THE FIGURES FROM?

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(Photo: Kenneth Allen)

Story that ran in several tabloids about beggars supposedly making a fortune, backed up with no real evidence

  1. DAILY MAIL LAUNCHES SHAMEFUL AND DESPERATE ATTACK ON SADIQ KHAN

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(Photo: US Embassy London)

The paper makes a series of desperate attempts to link Sadiq Khan to extremism

  1. DAILY MAIL GUILTY OF MISREPORTING ON STATISTICS AGAIN – THIS TIME IT’S BENEFIT CLAIMANTS

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(Photo: Andrew Writer)

The paper misuses DWP statistics to try and have a go at people on benefits

  1. MORE LIES AND HYPE FROM THE DAILY MAIL ON REFUGEES

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(Photo: DFID)

The paper slurs refugees as economic migrants coming to sponge off the state.

  1. TABLOID SMEAR CAMPAIGN AGAINST LABOUR CONTINUES

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(Photo: US Embassy London)

More lies written about Sadiq Khan

  1. THE DAILY MAIL, THE TORY MP AND THE LIES ABOUT UK BORDERS

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(Photo: Policy Exchange)

Lies written about border controls to try and have a go at the EU.

  1. PAPERS ACCUSED BY POLICE OF ‘TRIVIALISING’ ABUSE TOWARDS WOMEN

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The paper was one of a number of outlets reporting that a police force would be classifying wolf whistling as a hate crime

  1. TABLOIDS FALLING OVER THEMSELVES TO DRAW OUT NEGATIVES FROM REPORT ON FRENCH MUSLIMS

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(Photo: Chris Schuepp)

The paper was among tabloids who chose to focus on a conservative minority of Muslims answering a French questionnaire. Another attempt to whip up anti-Muslim sentiment.

  1. THIS WEEK’S TABLOID NARRATIVE: TREAT CHILDREN FLEEING WARZONES WITH SUSPICION

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The Daily Mail was one of a number of papers making unsubstantiated allegations about child refugees

  1. FORGET THE EU: NOW IT’S THE UK PARLIAMENT THAT’S UNDEMOCRATIC, ACCORDING TO THE TABLOIDS

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(Photo: Carlesmari)

The now infamous ‘enemies of the people’ and ‘war on democracy’ rant about the Brexit decision.

  1. MAIL ON SUNDAY ADOPTS ‘CHINESE WHISPERS’ METHOD OF REVIEWING INTEGRATION REPORT, ENDS UP WRITING MORE RUBBISH ABOUT MUSLIMS

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(Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License CC-BY-SA 3.0)

False claim that some British Muslims see the UK as 75% Islamic

  1. DAILY MAIL THINKS THAT BETTER USER PRIVACY RULES COULD DESTROY THE INTERNET

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Another swipe at the EU, this time over an internet privacy directive

  1. IN THE SEASON OF GOODWILL, THE DAILY MAIL LAUNCHES VICIOUS ATTACK ON WOMEN’S SUPPORT GROUP

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(Photo: Andrew Parsons/i-Images)

An attempt to smear a Muslim women’s group by linking it to extremism

  1. TABLOIDS LIE ABOUT BANK REPORT ON THE POUND

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Falsely blaming a plummeting pound on ‘Brexit doomsters’.

  1. THREE LOVE LETTERS TO TRUMP AND AN ATTEMPTED SMEAR OF OBAMA: HOW THE DAILY MAIL COVERED US POLITICS AT THE WEEKEND

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(Photo: Michael Vadon)

The paper makes its US political allegiances known

  1. THE MAIL ON SUNDAY AND THE LIES ABOUT NHS GUIDELINES: LESSONS IN TABLOID SPIN

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Falsely claiming that doctors had been ordered to use gender-neutral terms when dealing with pregnant mothers.

Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.