(Photo: Adam Patterson/Panos/DFID)

The Daily Mail has been up to its usual tricks of trying to get its readers to hate asylum-seekers and refugees by misreporting on a London charity project to help new arrivals to the UK.

The tabloid, which has a long history of negative reporting on immigration – as well as a history that includes supporting fascism and Adolf Hitler – ran a story in December about a project run by the Hillingdon Refugee Support Group, funded by the Big Lottery.

The charity, based in west London, was awarded nearly £400k in March last year for an integration project over a number of years. But although it is doing exactly what it is supposed to be doing as a charitable organisation set up to help refugees, it has come under fire from the rightwing tabloid who dismissed the project as ‘jollies paid for with public money.’

But the article, originally published on 19th December 2015, misleads readers as it completely misreports on key elements of the project.

Running with the headline WISH YOU WERE HERE? REFUGEES ARE TAKEN ON £100,000 JOLLIES TO ZOOS, THEME PARKS AND EVEN TO THE BEACH TO HELP THEM ‘INTEGRATE’ INTO BRITISH LIFE… AND GUESS WHO’S PAYING FOR IT ALL, the article goes on to criticise the charity for using ‘public money‘ for outings that one campaigner is quoted as saying makes ‘Britain look more like Butlins.

However, in what is becoming a trademark tactic of the Daily Mail among other newspapers, the full story is buried deep down near the end of the article, away from the provocative and sensationalist headlines.

It emerges that the trips are just a small part of a wider project aimed at integrating young people into life in Britain.

A spokeswoman for the Big Lottery is quoted as saying ‘The majority of the grant money is being used for one-to-one counselling lessons, education and life skills training to help them build their confidence and independence.

So a decent article on the subject might have been to report on the work done by a charity to try and help young refugees make the most of life here and avoid becoming marginalised and disenfranchised. But the Daily Mail being the Daily Mail, it had to find a negative angle and stick to its standard portrayal of asylum-seekers and refugees as a bunch of spongers freeloading at the expense of the taxpayer.

The problem is that, because the article does include the accurate factual information buried away beyond the headlines, the paper is only guilty of misleading readers rather than lying to them outright and thus no charges can be bought against them.

It’s a tactic papers are using more and more frequently to avoid them being forced by the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) to print a correction.

Another problem with the article is its repeated use of the term ‘public money‘ which, although it is mentioned that funds are from the Big Lottery, gives the impression that the project is being paid for out of the government’s purse. Lottery money is public money in the sense that the funds do come from the sale of lottery tickets to the public, but it’s classified as charity money, the same as Comic Relief funding.

It’s also only made clear near the end of the article that the project is specifically for young people who have arrived unaccompanied without their families and so are likely to be most in need of support to help them settle into their new environment.

So the Big Lottery has awarded some funding to a refugee charity to run a project that encompasses education, skills-building, confidence-building and counselling for young asylum-seekers who have arrived in a new country without any family, and that project also includes a few trips to fun places to help them enjoy and understand the place that, at least for the time being, they will call home. It doesn’t sound so bad, does it?

It’s a pity that the Daily Mail can’t see beyond their agenda and prejudices to report on it that way.

Link to Daily Mail article: http://www.donotlink.com/hnw8



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