How Newspaper Lies Led to Brexit

How Newspaper Lies Led to Brexit

Guten Morgen. I’m a journalist who’s been
investigating journalism. In particular, how the British newspapers
have presented immigrants and refugees. And how our press regulator has intervened,
or not, when things have gone wrong, when newspapers have not accurately
reported what’s been happening. And I haven’t liked what I have seen. A daily deluge in some of our media, that’s
spreading hatred towards migrants and refugees. And it should be said at the outset that the
distinction between EU migrants, non-EU migrants, illegal migrants, asylum seekers
and refugees are not in these reports. They’re lumped together. According to some British media,
they’re all the same. And in demonstrating this, I want to give
some examples of some of the newspaper reports that I have been looking at lately. In particular, a report that led up to the
lifting of work restrictions for Romanians and Bulgarians coming to Britain
at the beginning of last year. And, in the months leading up to that event,
some of the British media was spreading great fear that 29 million Bulgarians and Romanians
would now be allowed to come to Britain. Well here was the Daily Mail
online story about this. The Daily Mail is the world’s most popular
online newspaper, with almost 200 million online readers. And here it is. Confirming everyone’s fears. From the first of January the newspaper was
claiming that all the planes and buses from Romania and Bulgaria to Britain
were full up and sold out. They were on their way. And the readers. There were almost 1,800 comments
underneath the story. Premoderated comments,
from readers absolutely horrified. ‘Our country’s already full.’ ‘Please don’t come here, we don’t want you.’ ‘It churns my stomach to be invaded like this.’ So all this hatred towards Romanians and Bulgarians
in particular, and generally against migrants, was something that this story churned up. But actually the story turned out
to be completely untrue. Flights had not been doubled
as claimed by the Daily Mail. And, in not very PR speak, Wizz Air Press
Office told me, “It’s complete rubbish.” I was able to get seats on planes
and buses which the Daily Mail claimed were completely
completely full up. The Balkan Horn bus company told me they had
less bookings that year than the previous year, and they had plenty of seats. And I was able to book seats on the bus that
the Daily Mail claimed, was full up. Well, with my journalist colleague, Alina
Matis, an investigative journalist from Romania, we teamed up, and we analysed this
Daily Mail story line by line, and came up with 13 serious complaints. We even tracked down people who the Daily
Mail claimed to have interviewed, who said “We were not interviewed”. I presented 13 complaints to the
Press Complaints Commission, now called IPSO. And it took 7 months of investigation by the
Press Complaints Commission, during which time the actual condition of them
investigating, was that I should shut up. I had to remain quiet. I couldn’t
report anything for those 7 months. At the end of the 7 months I was able to say
on my own blog that actually, although they didn’t agree with all the 13 complaints,
the Press Complaints Commission agreed that the Daily Mail had broken the ‘Editors’ Code
of Practice’, which is their ethics code, on probably what is their most
serious code 1, on accuracy. I put this on my blog which is
By the way don’t get my blog mixed up with, because I discovered
not long ago that that site specialises in ropes for bondage.
[Laughter] Nothing to do with me, Daily Mail, in case
you might be in the audience. So, I won. But the
Press Complaints Commission refused to publish their findings. They refused to tell the Daily Mail that they
had to tell the public that they had broken the ‘Editors’ Code of Practice’ on accuracy. I’d spent 7 months being silent and if I hadn’t
published the result of our own Press Regulator’s deliberations on this, nobody
would ever have known. And I just wonder. I raise the question, whether this
is anything to do with it: Because this guy, Paul Dacre,
is the editor of the Daily Mail. But he has a second job too. He’s also in charge of the
‘Editors’ Code of Practice’. Not only for the Press Complaints
Commission, but the new organisation IPSO, that’s taken its place. I raise that as a question. Well here’s another newspaper. Daily Express. You might wonder why am I concentrating
on the Daily Mail and the Daily Express Well by far, they have more
complaints against them than any other newspaper
to our press regulator. This is a story from some years ago. Doesn’t matter because not much
has changed in the intervening time. This is a typical Daily Express story against
‘immigrants who are milking the system’. And again, they don’t distinguish. Immigrants, asylum seekers,
refugees, illegal immigrants. According to this story they’re all the same.
I analysed it and came up with multiple factual errors in this story. It was complete nonsense. And yet, based on this,
a lot of xenophobia is raised For example, one inaccuracy, ‘Hordes of illegal
immigrants are queueing to be smuggled into Britain to claim benefits.’ What the newspaper didn’t tell anyone is that
illegal immigrants are not entitled to any benefits. And we wonder, what is the motive,
for a newspaper like the Daily Express, to do stories like this? Well here’s one idea. You can ring them, and vote, on whether you
think these illegal immigrants should get benefits that they’re not entitled
to get in the first place. If you vote yes or no, the Daily Express
still makes a lot of money out of it. Here’s a more recent story from August.
Two Daily Mail stories about refugees, from Calais, coming to Britain. And you’ll notice
that in the headlines and in the first parts of the story, they don’t refer
to them as asylum seekers or refugees. They’re referred to
as ‘illegals’ or ‘illegal migrants’. In the first story it was claimed that these
‘Calais stowaways’ as they’re called, were being put up in hotels. Hundreds of them according to the Daily Mail.
In actual fact the truth of the story was that 100 asylum seekers
were put up in hotels temporarily. Not for very long. And you can’t really call them illegals. They were accepted as asylum seekers.
In the second story, it said that 7 out of 10 Calais migrants
were getting into the UK. That was also untrue and
I’m going to come onto that. Let’s deal with the first
story briefly, first. This is how the Daily Mail want to
present these asylum seekers. Heaven forbid they’re being given food. And to just demonstrate the point,
let’s see a sandwich and some chips. That’s the sort of food these
asylum seekers are being given. How awful. Welcome to ‘soft touch UK’,
where asylum seekers are going to get £5 a day subsistence to live on. Terrible. And what about the other story. Well this is the Chief Constable of Kent,
who told our Parliament that, within four months, 70% of the
refugees, migrants, asylum seekers, whatever you want to call them, who are
camped in what’s known as The Jungle, in Calais, 70% of them
within four months,disperse. But no one really knows
where they go. Some of them may
come to Britain. Some of them may go to
other parts of Europe. Or claim asylum
in France. That’s what he said. But what the Daily Mail chose to report, was
that the Chief Constable of Kent said that ALL of them come to Britain. All 70%. And based on those statistics the Daily Mail statistics
department was able to do some very convoluted numbers of people who were getting to Britain. I reported this to Parliament. And to the Kent Police, they thanked me. The Kent Police insisted to the
Daily Mail that they publish a correction, which they did. But the correction was incorrect.
[Laughter] So what does this lead to? A newspaper that can spread lies,
that promotes xenophobia. So we end up with cartoons that are acceptable. Cilla, Cilla Black, was a famous personality,
a TV star, who had recently died. And here she is, queueing up to heaven, and
the Daily Mail feel that they can say, ‘Sorry for the long queue into
heaven Cilla, but there’s a lot of illegals who are ahead of you.’ Illegals mean asylum seekers. Asylum seekers, 2,600 of whom,
drowned on the Mediteranean. And this is how a leading newspaper
in Great Britain is depicting that. Well, what’s the difference between that sort
of cartoon and this cartoon, from Germany in 1936, where a Jewish man is shown
politely asking for room on a bench. After which he shoves off the previous
occupant and the caption asserts that Jews behave in this way in other situations. What’s the difference between that and this: From the Daily Mail of August, where because they say our
hotels are full of these ‘illegals’, a British elderly couple are told they’re
going to have to tell these asylum seekers to shove over to make room for them. Well, only this week, Home Secretary of Great
Britain, Theresa May, gave a speech to say how mass immigration to Britain
was not good for the country. Mass immigration in a country where just
12% of our population is foreign born. Actually similar to Germany, similar to
most other modern western countries. Not that unusual, but she went on to say that
immigration had zero value to the country. Immigration actually meant that
British people were losing jobs. Is it any wonder that because of that rhetoric
from our Government, a Government incidentally who is also planning to scrap our Human
Rights Act, and talking about leaving the European Convention on Human Rights. Is it any wonder if the Government can play
that sort of rhetoric, that we can have newspaper columnists, for instance in the Sun,
refer to migrants as cockroaches. And what she meant wasn’t migrants really,
they’re not using the right terminology. These are refugees and asylum seekers. Well, Genocide Watch is an organisation that
keeps an eye on these things and they have said that there actually
8 steps to genocide. And for my reckoning we’re
probably on step number 3. The dehumanisation of a group of people,
in this case, migrants and refugees. They’re all foreigners, talking about them
as vermin and and cockroaches. Putting them across in a way
which makes them sub-human. So from my observation, it looks
to me that we have a media, that promotes xenophobia, parts of it. And I should add, that there are millions of
people in Great Britain who do not feel this way. There are millions of people in Britain
who actually are supportive of refugees. There are hundreds of thousands of businesses
who hire immigrants and are very pleased that they are available to be hired.
But in the backdrop of media and Government it seems to me that we may well be
on step 3 on the 8 steps to genocide. And I really hope that I am wrong. Thank you [Applause]

One thought on “How Newspaper Lies Led to Brexit

  1. As a Brit living in Germany it shocks me to witness the blind hatred of Europe in the UK without hearing a single valid supporting argument. Now I understand why – the right wing controlled press!

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