Dispute over doctors' contracts
Image: AP/Associated Press

It’s been a strange old week. As junior doctors carried out a two-day strike in their ongoing dispute over contracts with Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, the British Medical Association suddenly found itself in the position of tabloid bogeyman of the week.

Despite polls suggesting 57% of the public supported the strike action (compared to 26% opposing it), coverage in the press has been on the negative side. Particularly in the right-leaning papers, with The Daily Mail, The Sun and The Daily Telegraph all pursuing the narrative that the belligerent striking doctors were bringing the NHS to its knees.

Leading that charge was The Sun. Not content with merely publishing reports criticising the strikes, the paper also printed an article with the headline MILITANT DOCTORS RUNNING FOR UNION POSTS CALLED FOR LEFTIE REVOLUTION TO OVERTHROW GOVERNMENT.

The Murdoch-run tabloid has never been too keen on unions and industrial action, particularly since News International’s bitter fight with print unions 30 years ago. So it must have been delighted when its trusted ‘Whitehall sources’ revealed details of BMA manifestos to journalists.

So who are these terrifying GP revolutionaries planning to storm the Houses of Parliament any day now armed with scalpels and bone drills?

Conspirators such as comrade Andrew Collier, ‘a junior doctor who qualified eight years ago’. According to The Sun, Dr Collier’s priority was ‘ensuring the BMA fought for its members as a real trade union, demanding fierce opposition to unsafe and unfair government reforms’. What a radical – a union representative proposing to do what a union rep is supposed to do!

However, he is a moderate compared to GP Gary Marlowe, who did the unthinkable and criticised the government for keeping health spending levels at ‘one of the lowest proportions of GDP in the developed world’. How dare he want to spend more money on the health of the population! What a threat to freedom and democracy!

Dr Marlowe’s position was backed by another GP, Hamed Khan, who also took the militant far-left stance of wanting to see the NHS survive, saying that it’s ‘clear that the government wants to defund, demoralise and ultimately dismantle the NHS’.

Another candidate, David Mummery, is quoted as saying ‘We must inspire a doctor-led takeover of management, as there is currently no other option’. Presumably once Mr Mummery has achieved that, it will be onward to Westminster to line the bourgeois cabinet up against the wall before establishing a dictatorship of the practitioner.

With such a dangerous bunch of radicals wanting to keep healthcare public poised to take charge of the BMA, what hope is there for this nation? Thank goodness that The Sun is there to keep these rebels in check and look after our best interests.

Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.





(Photo: DFID)

The Daily Mail is at it again. The paper that a century ago referred to Jewish people fleeing Eastern Europe as ‘so-called refugees’ are today calling those who’ve been given refugee status ‘economic migrants’ who have come to the UK to sponge off the state.

In an article published this week with the headline NUMBER OF REFUGEES GRANTED ASYLUM IN THE UK SOARS BY 26% IN A YEAR WITH NEARLY 50 A DAY BEING ALLOWED TO STAY, the paper writes of the 17,920 given sanctuary in the UK last year:

‘Many are fleeing humanitarian disasters in Africa and the Middle East, but others are economic migrants attracted to the UK by lavish benefits, housing and illegal work.’

But these are people who have had their asylum applications assessed by the government and have been granted the status of political refugees. Unless The Daily Mail has information on these cases that the government hasn’t seen, how can the paper refer to them as economic migrants and not refugees?

Surely this is just as libellous as referring to someone who has been found not guilty in the courts as a criminal?

The successful applications made up 47% of a total of 38,080 overall asylum applications last year. Most of The Daily Mail article is an expression of its trademark shock and outrage that, in a time where we are experiencing the biggest global refugee crisis since the Second World War, there is a slightly larger number of refugees arriving here than in the past few years.

Yet despite the tabloid’s alarm, a calm and rational look at the figures shows that we’re far from being ‘flooded’ or ‘swamped’ or ‘overrun’ or whatever they might have you believe.

*Although number of applications and successful appeals is higher in 2015 than in the past few years, it’s less than half of what it was in 2002 when it peaked at 84,132 applications.

*The UK has far fewer asylum applications per head (6 per every 10,000 people, equivalent to 0.06% of the total population) than the EU average (26 per 10,000) and is ranked 17th out of the 28 EU countries.

*The UK currently grants asylum to 2 people per every 10,000, ranking it 14th out of the 28 EU countries.

*The UK granted asylum to 2,053 Syrian refugees in 2015, ranking it 9th out of the 28 EU countries.

Worth remembering this next time you see a piece of tabloid hype about Britain taking more than its fair share of refugees.

More information on asylum statistics available here.

Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.



(Photo: Andrew Writer)

In its article ALMOST A MILLION PEOPLE WHO COULD WORK HAVE BEEN ON BENEFITS FOR THREE OF THE PAST FOUR YEARS, The Daily Mail writes about a report by the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) on working-age benefits.

The paper focuses on the 982,000 people who have claimed benefits for three of the past four years and presents this information as number of out-of-work claimants who could work.

However, it’s another misleading headline as the figure includes a number of people in low-paid or part-time work who are receiving in-work benefits. It also includes people with a long-term illness or disability who the DWP consider will be capable of work in the future.

The breakdown of the 982,000 claimants is:

27.7% claiming Jobseekers Allowance (JSA)
46.6% claiming Employment Support Allowance (ESA)
25.7% claiming Income Support (IS)

The 25.7% claiming IS (approx. 252,000) are lone parents working part-time less than 16 hours per week.

The 46.6% claiming ESA (457,000) includes 35.8% (352,000) who are in the work-related activity group (WRAG) which are those the DWP consider will be capable of work at some time in the future and who are capable of taking steps towards re-entering the labour market (e.g. training or work-focused interviews).

It also includes 10.8% of ESA claimants (106,000) who are at the assessment phase, including an unspecified number who are in part-time low-paid work.

So the only people who really fit the description in the headline are the 272,000 on JSA. Just over a quarter of them.

So we’ll have to award The Daily Mail 27.7% accuracy on this one, which sounds low but is higher than most of their reports on migration and better than the overall average for The Sun.

Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.



(Photo: US Embassy London)

You can tell that an important election is just around the corner because the tabloid newspapers are in full ‘smear campaign’ mode against politicians running for office.

Step forward The Daily Mail which has taken the tired old ‘extremist connections’ allegations about Labour candidate Sadiq Khan (pictured) and ran with them.

In an article titled WITH FRIENDS LIKE THIS, IS SADIQ KHAN FIT TO RUN LONDON? writer Isabel Oakeshott – co-author with Lord Ashcroft of the David Cameron pig-gate revelations – comes out with a series of paper thin and below-the-belt accusations against the Tooting MP.

Using what journalist Mehdi Hasan has referred to as the ‘six degrees of Islamist separation’, Ms Oakeshott assembles a list of terrorists, extremists and dodgy organisations that Mr Khan may at some point have been in the same room with or known a friend of. These are presented as examples of his ‘dealings with extremists’ that ‘raise doubts over his suitability as London’s next mayor’.

The list of ‘crimes’ Mr Khan has committed are as follows:

‘After a funeral a few months ago, he stopped to speak to a convicted terrorist’

This refers to a funeral of a Muslim lady in his constituency, which Mr Khan attended and – as local MP – shook hands with some of the attendees. One of these hands belonged to ‘convicted terrorist’ Babar Ahmad who exchanged ‘brief pleasantries’ with Mr Khan before he moved on.

As if this wasn’t tenuous enough, it turns out Mr Ahmad is actually a convicted terrorist in the sense that he spent 11 years imprisoned without trial for hosting a website that allowed two articles supporting the Taliban to be posted in 2000-01. Following extradition to the US, he was eventually released after a trial where the judge described him as ‘generous, humane and empathetic’ and a ‘good person’ who was never interested in terrorism. Mr Khan had been part of a high-profile campaign to prevent the extradition to the US, as had numerous other politicians including current mayor Boris Johnson and current Tory mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith.

‘He once shared a platform with convicted terrorist Yasser al-Siri’

As Chair of human rights organisation Liberty, Mr Khan spoke at an event in 2003 campaigning against the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. Also on the bill were Egyptian Islamist militant al-Siri and Sajeel Shahid, one of the leaders of UK-based extremist group Al-Muhajiroun. But being on the same bill as someone at an event does not mean you endorse their views. Particularly in politics, where in the interests of diplomacy or supporting a particular cause individuals may find themselves in the same space as those whose ideologies they may oppose. Or, in the case of Prime Ministers, hosting them at Downing Street (or even siding with them in a war).

‘His parliamentary assistant posted homophobic and misogynistic messages online’

His assistant Shueb Salar was found to have posted stupid joke tweets using the words ‘faggots’ and ‘hoes’ back in 2012. Khan, who has been a consistent supporter of gay marriage, suspended Mr Salar immediately and accepted his subsequent resignation.

‘He ‘followed’ two Isis supporters on Twitter’

Out of 7,300 people that Mr Khan follows on the social media site, one has posted links to Daesh propaganda videos and another tweets regularly about his brother who has been found guilty of supporting Afghan insurgents. But then if 0.03% of your social media contacts supporting extremism equals ‘support for extremism’, then the number of terrorist sympathisers in this country is going to raise considerably.

‘His former brother-in-law had links to extremist group Al-Muhajiroun’

Back in February, The Sun claimed that Makbool Javaid, who was married to Khan’s sister Farhat until 2011, was a supporter of Al-Muhajiroun in the 1990s, an allegation which Mr Javaid has repeatedly denied. Regardless, Mr Khan has had no contact with Mr Javaid in over a decade. Mr Javaid works for a UK law firm and, in an embarrassing turn of events for The Sun, it emerged that the paper is one of the firm’s main clients.

‘He attended meetings organised by a group supported by a terrorist’

Perhaps the most tenuous one yet. Mr Khan attended four meetings run by an organisation called Stop Political Terror during his time campaigning against the extradition of Mr Ahmad. The group had no links to terrorism itself, but wait… in 2004, US extremist Anwar al-Akwali was listed as a supporter.

Stop Political Terror went on to merge with CAGE, an advocacy organisation that has attracted controversy for associating with Islamists and expressions of support for an Islamic caliphate. But although some politicians including Tory MP Jane Ellison have worked with them, Mr Khan has always distanced himself from CAGE and has described them as ‘a vile organisation’.

‘He attended an annual conference that has had alleged extremist speakers in the past’

In 2008, Mr Khan attended the Global Peace and Unity festival, an interfaith gathering organised by a Muslim TV station. Khan attended in his capacity as a government minister with civil servants. The festival has attracted controversy on account of a handful of speakers considered to have extremist views, although on the whole it’s considered a fairly mainstream event attended by many politicians, artistic performers and representatives from other fields.

‘He attended a 10th anniversary celebration of an organisation outlawed by the Israeli government’

Mr Khan along with Jeremy Corbyn attended the 2007 celebration of the Palestinian Return Centre, a UK-based organisation advocating on behalf of Palestinian refugees. Although the organisation is outlawed in Israel, it is recognised by the UN and in 2015 was granted special consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council.

It’s clear that The Daily Mail and other papers that have reported on Sadiq Khan in this way are going out of their way to scrape the barrel and dig the dirt on a man who, whatever you may think of him or his politics, has a track record of speaking out against terrorism and extremism (including in the very tabloid papers that attack him) and of trying to build relationships between different communities and faith groups. He is well-known within the London Muslim community as a moderate whose stances have often upset conservatives and extremists (he has spoken about receiving death threats for his support of gay marriage).

Deliberately misleading articles like this one in The Daily Mail are not just shameful and desperate. In this current climate of rising far-right sentiment, they are dangerous too.

Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.


David Cameron

Last week was, by his own admission, a dreadful week for David Cameron, with the Panama Papers revealing his family’s involvement in overseas tax havens. Having been vocal in his criticism of others’ tax avoidance in the past, the PM has been rightly mauled this last week in the press for his hypocrisy.

However, one paper that normally has a field day with such revelations has been a bit quiet. The Sun covered the scandal with a couple of articles in the week, but they were uncharacteristically sober in tone. In fact, they almost read like proper journalism.

The tabloid has supported the Tories for the last two general elections and owner Rupert Murdoch enjoys a closer relationship with the PM than any newspaper proprietor should. But the paper has taken a more critical line with Cameron over the past couple of months after announcing it would be supporting the Brexit campaign in the forthcoming EU referendum.

Perhaps the issue of tax avoidance is one too close to the bone for Murdoch, whose Newscorp was found to have avoided £350million in corporation tax over 11 years in an investigation as long ago as 2002.

In a week when Cameron was there for the taking, The Sun decided to try and deflect attention away from this and instead stick the boot into its favourite whipping boy of the moment – Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

No less than three articles appeared attacking Corbyn in the days following the Panama Papers leak. Each one had the flimsiest premise, yet contained far more vitriol and disapproval than the reports on the Camerons placing thousands in offshore trusts.


The first (JEREMY CORBYN SPENDS TAXPAYERS CASH FOR DAILY DELIVERY OF COMMUNIST PAPER MORNING STAR) was the ‘shock’ revelation that the Labour leader had used his office allowances to order daily newspapers (including the Morning Star) to be delivered to his office – as he is perfectly entitled to do with his office allowance. It was a desperate strike from The Sun, given that Corbyn puts in annual claims far lower than most MPs.

The second (JEREMY CORBYN DEFENDS BROTHER’S ZIONIST SLUR SAYING ‘WE FUNDAMENTALLY AGREE’) was an attempt to pull Corbyn into the ongoing antisemitism row within the Labour party. But what Corbyn was referring to when he said ‘we fundamentally agree’ was the Corbyn family’s general stance against all forms of racism.

The final article ( WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO HIDE JEZZA? CORBYN BRUSHES OFF REPORTERS QUIZZING HIM ON PANAMA PAPERS) was the cheapest shot of the three, a below-the-belt attempt to implicate Corbyn in the Panama Papers scandal. The article accuses him of having ‘something to hide’ purely because he refused to criticise Cameron on camera when a reporter approached him in the street.

Poor Jezza must wonder what tabloid rubbish lies in store for him next time Cameron is caught misbehaving.

Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.



(Picture: SWNS)

The Daily Express has written a disgraceful article about an unemployed single mother currently stuck living in a Travelodge hotel.

Titled JOBLESS MOTHER WANTS THE RIGHT TO CLAIM BENEFITS AND FOR YOU TO PAY FOR HER BIGGER HOME, the article is about Shanique Vickerman, 26, (pictured), who has been temporarily housed in the hotel in Newcastle-under-Lyme with her four-year-old son for the last five months.

Ms Vickerman is currently looking for work. She was placed in hotel accommodation by Staffordshire Council following a brief stay in the Elizabeth Centre for domestic abuse victims after fleeing an abusive relationship last October. Although she was born in the UK and her son is British, she grew up in Jamaica and her current immigration status means that she has no access to public funds.

Staffordshire Council are having to pick up the bill, which amounts to £400-a-week including food costs, while the situation is sorted out. Cue outrage from The Express who are keen to inform readers that Ms Vickerman is living ‘at the taxpayers’ expense’.

The paper tries to paint Ms Vickerman as a ‘benefits scrounger’ although it’s hard to see exactly what she has done wrong. She suffered domestic abuse, ran away and sought help and is now trying to get her life back in order with a job and a roof over her head so that she can raise her son. It’s not her fault that she is currently trapped in hotel accommodation while the public pays for it.

Like presumably any young mother, she doesn’t want to bring a child up in a single hotel room with no kitchen or cooking facilities. She has complained that it’s not a suitable environment, it’s causing her to have panic attacks and it’s affecting her son’s wellbeing. She also says having a hotel room as an address is making it difficult for her to find work.

But because Ms Vickerman wants to be rehoused in more suitable accommodation and is trying to get her legal status sorted out, The Express refers to her as ‘demanding a bigger place to live and the right to claim benefits’.

Unsuprisingly, The Daily Mail and The Sun also picked up on the story and reported it in much the same way. In each article it’s a ‘jobless’ single mum ‘demanding’ benefits and housing, playing into that ‘culture of entitlement’ narrative that these tabloids know inflames so many of their readers. The fact that Ms Vickerman is an immigrant of sorts is an added bonus to them.

Interestingly, all three reports treat the fact that Ms Vickerman suffered domestic abuse and that she is trying to find a job as incidental pieces of information.

The story quickly spread across far-right nationalist sites and social media pages such as Stormfront and Knights Templar International, including a Hitler-worshipping blog that changed only the title of the article. The main body was a verbatim repeat of the Express piece of work.

When actual Nazis are plagiarising from the tabloids, that’s when you know you’ve got a problem with the press being maybe a little too right-wing…

Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.