The Sun has published an article about a supposed fake child migrant that sounds ludicrously far-fetched, even by its own extreme standards.

Titled CUCKOO IN THE NEST, it’s a story about a foster mum called Rosie (no surname given) who claims that a 12-year-old refugee she took in turned out to be a ’21-year-old Jihadi’.

There are no firm details in the article – no full names, no pictures, no venues – which means that the credibility of the story rests on its believability. And the paper hasn’t done a very good job with that.

There are a number of problems with the article. First off, we are asked to believe from the outset that this foster parent – who presumably sympathises with the plight of child refugees if she’s willing to take one in herself – has chosen to take her story to a tabloid paper well-known for its uncharitable stance on migrants.

Fair enough, you might think. Her experiences may have changed her opinion and perhaps The Sun was a logical choice to run with such a story.

Second slight problem is the name of the refugee is given as Jamal from Afghanistan. Jamal is not an Afghan name. It’s common in Turkey and a few Arab countries but not in Afghanistan.

This doesn’t, of course, mean that it has to be false. Just quite unlikely. Less than 1% of the population of Afghanistan is Arabic, so it’s possible that there are a small number of Jamals from Afghanistan in existence.

Far bigger problems emerge throughout the story. Rosie is reported as saying she became suspicious of Jamal when he expertly stripped a gun before firing it at a firing range.

So we are to believe that a foster parent took a vulnerable child who has escaped the warzone of Afghanistan to a gun range? Is that a responsible way to look after an asylum-seeking child? Where is this firing range?

Rosie claims that Jamal’s real age was discovered following a dental check (how convenient, given the news coverage of the past week!) and that ‘Taliban material and child abuse images were later found on his phone’.

So one would presume that this Jamal from Afghanistan would have been arrested on charges of terrorism and paedophilia. Apparently not. According to Rosie, he’s roaming around freely out there somewhere after telling her ‘I’ll kill you and I know where your children are’.

‘Every day I check the car, and that all the house windows are shut. I panic because I know he knows our routine‘, she says.

But she’s obviously not too scared to go to the biggest selling daily newspaper rather than the police with her concerns.

It’s possible that The Sun simply made all this up from scratch. What’s more likely is that, in the desperation to find a few stories to try and back up its position on the Calais child refugees coming to the UK, its ‘journalists’ have reported on some cock-and-bull story fed to them by a member of the public without checking if it all adds up.

It doesn’t matter to The Sun. Numerous other papers and websites have re-published and re-spun the story so its goal of strengthening the link between refugees and fraudsters, terrorists, paedophiles, etc. in the minds of tabloid readers will have been achieved long before anyone is able to prove that the article is as made up as the Three Little Pigs.

Of course, there is a 0.00001% chance that everything in this story is true. If that turns out to be the case, I’ll agree to present Match Of The Day in my underpants.

Update: it appears that the Sun article is a rehash of an article that appeared in the Daily Mail back in February (available here) which also looks dubious as it rests on an account given by none other than Tory MP David Davies. All The Sun has done is given the ‘refugee’ a name (which it screwed up), moved the location from Wales to the south east and added in a few (very likely made up) details of its own. 

Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.



  1. That they feel they can publish this obvious work of fiction (which is in itself based on a false story published by the #dailyfail) without fear of repercussions says a lot.

    Im sure if they want to publish neonazi fan fiction there is a forum for that online somewhere.
    If they want to be journalists they should carry out sufficient fact checking to verify a story before publishing it.


  2. […] References: 1. Europa. (2014). Immigrants, 2014 (per 1000 inhabitants) YB16. Retrieved 15/02, from,_2014_(per_1_000_inhabitants)_YB16.png 2. Franklin, B. (2003). “McJournalism”: The McDonaldization Thesis and Junk Journalism. Retrieved 15/02, from 3. The Sun. (2016). Cuckoo in the Nest. Retrieved 13/02, from Migrant foster mum reveals her horror at discovering ’12-year-old refugee’ in her care is actually a 21-year-old Jihadi 4. Seibert et al. (1956). Four theories of the press. pp.45. Retrieved 15/02, from,+1956&ots=F40RljpUu_&sig=Ecu2_vX42ss4xuelGcBYIh-qqCY#v=onepage&q&f=false 5. Janowitz, M. (1975). Professional models in journalism: the gatekeeper and the advocate. Retrieved 15/02, from 6. MailOnline. (2016). 'Child' asylum seeker caught out by his teeth. Retrieved 13/02, from 7. Huffington Post. (2016). David Davies Roasted For His Solution To Tesco’s Marmite Shortage. Retrieved 15/02, from 8. Tabloid Corrections. (2016). SUN ARTICLE ON ‘ADULT CHILD REFUGEE’ ALMOST BEGGARS BELIEF. Retrieved 13/02, from SUN ARTICLE ON ‘ADULT CHILD REFUGEE’ ALMOST BEGGARS BELIEF […]


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