Saturday, 31 October 2009

Amanda Platell: inane, hypocritical and apparently, not racist

After last week's dismal Amanda Platell column, would this week's be any better? It doesn't start well. Here's the first paragraph:

Andre Agassi was always one of the most popular tennis champions on Centre Court. With his 17 major title wins, he was also one of the most successful players.

17 major title wins? That's certainly an interesting 'fact'. Agassi won 17 Masters Series Titles - which remains a record - but he also won eight Grand Slams. So that would be 25 major titles.

Having once again displayed her inability to do basic research, she thunders into a rant against Agassi for his admission he used drugs and lied about it during his playing days:

No mention that crystal meth destroys your brain and your life. No shred of remorse in his confession. No warnings to vulnerable children. Just a despicable bid to flog a few books.

Of course, since Agassi's autobiography hasn't actually come out yet, she has no idea if any of these things are in it. She selectively quotes this bit:

He said he felt 'a tidal wave of euphoria that sweeps away every negative thought. I've never felt so alive and hopeful - and I've never felt such energy'.

Without mentioning this bit:

But the physical aftermath is hideous. After two days of being high, of not sleeping, I’m an alien. I have the audacity to wonder why I feel so rotten. I’m an athlete, my body should be able to handle this.

Which hardly sounds like someone:

bragging about the illicit thrills.

Who does she target next? Kate Moss. Yes, another one of those younger women she seems to loathe so much. She's upset about Moss' new dress:


A neckline so scooped it touches her navel and a skirt only just long enough to cover her modesty? Perfect for the office Christmas party - if you work in a lapdancing club.

Yes, it's not as if Amanda would ever wear something with a low neckline, is it?

No, never.


But why is it that any woman who wears a low cut, short length dress is instantly a stripper. Does she hate women that much?

Well not all women. After all, last year when Liz Hurley went to an Elton John party with a low cut dress and cleavage everywhere, Amanda said:

Leave her be...long may Liz do so, heaving bosom and all.

It's almost as if she is using her column to attack anyone she doesn't like, whether it fits in with what she has previously argued or not. Imagine that.

And, incidentally, if she had bothered to look further than a very carefully posed publicity shot, she would see the dress in question is nothing like as revealing as she is claiming:


In a week when there's a famine in Ethiopia, 132 dead in suicide bombings in Baghdad, 100 killed in a market blast in Pakistan and 12 murdered in Kabul, what does Foreign Secretary David Miliband talk about? Why Tony Blair should be President of Europe, of course.

Interesting. The Presidency of Europe has been one of the big stories of the week, so it would be incredible if the Foreign Secretary hadn't talked about it. In any case, he had probably been asked about it.

Funnily enough, Amanda herself doesn't discuss any of those events other than that passing mention. And that was after the bit about a sequin dress. Still, at least the paper she works for covers such big news stories prominently:

OK, so Monday it was something about grandparents. Must be on Tuesday's front page:

Oh no, that was the one about the scandal of Daily Mail readers becoming criminals because they break the law. How dare the law!

Nope not Wednesday or Thursday either. They'd have to do one of those tragic events on Friday rather than, say, some complete non-story about a rock star's daughter wearing lipstick:


Next it's the weekly pop at immigrants. And don't forget - Amanda is Australian. Because she seems to sometimes:

A mother who objected to ethnic minority staff being present at the birth of her child may be charged under the race discrimination laws.

I deplore racism and am aware our NHS would collapse without its army of fine foreign nurses, but perhaps the mother had a similar experience to me when I was last in hospital.

Or, perhaps, the mother was just a racist. Still at least we know Amanda

deplores racism

which come as a surprise to anyone who remembers this column of hers. And that's the second time she has said she deplores racism this month. Does she think people might think otherwise?

She then goes on to refer to a plan to

flood Britain within immigrants.

Obviously, because she deplores racism, that must be one of those good 'floods'. And then:

all they have really succeeded in doing is alienating the white working class, landing our schools with unmanageable numbers of non-English-speaking pupils and opening the door to the vile BNP.

Funny, but that sounds very familiar. Has Amanda been reading Jon Gaunt's thrilling new daily blog? Because on Monday he wrote:

I am no racist...

I and thousands of other Brits are having sleepless nights in between queuing for hours to see a doctor or a dentist, and to get a our kids into a school where the majority speak English and not a variety of languages from round the globe due to the tsunami of immigrants you have allowed to swamp Britain.

Again, that must be one of those good tsunamis and a totally positive use of the word 'swamp'. Because he's not a racist either.

The two are exactly the same. Referring to floods of foreigners taking your place in the healthcare line, suggesting your kids' education is suffering (although the difference between not speaking English and not speaking English as a first language is wilfully ignored) or in other ways suggesting immigrants are benefitting where you aren't is exactly the language the BNP uses.

But Gaunt and Amanda - they're not racist. Oh no.

Moving on, she celebrates the success of Today and Woman's Hour but suggest they wouldn't be commissioned today because:

Three hours of news and politics, with no screeching celebrity presenters? Unthinkable!

This from someone who loves Strictly Come Dancing (except Alesha Dixon) - a two hour programme of celebrities twirling around to elevator music.

And also from someone who presented the not-at-all missed news and politics show Morgan and Platell with Piers Morgan. How horrific is the thought of those two on television at the same time? Although she would probably claim as former newspaper editors they were serious journalists. Stop laughing at the back.

Anyway, she is really making another point that's well worth making:

As for Woman's Hour, it would be renamed Persons Of Unspecified Gender Hour.

Haha! Do you see? Because three sentences earlier she referred to 'Harriet Harperson'. It's about 'political correctness gone mad'!

It's also about some dismal, overpaid, know-nothing hack coming up with feeble jokes about the week's events. And this is just after she attacked someone else for being unfunny. Yes, really.

She targets Frankie Boyle for his Rebecca Addlington joke on Mock the Week (note to whingers: the clue is in the title):

While I'm all for free speech, Boyle's jibe was cruel, unfunny - and, above all, unjust.

So she believes in free speech, but not for people who tell jokes she doesn't think are funny? That'd be like saying, 'I'm not racist, but look at all these foreigners flooding here to ruin the education of white kids'.

Hypothetically speaking, of course.

Funny is clearly a matter of taste, but when did comedy have to be safe and just? Or is cruel and unjust fine, as long as it is funny?

Presumably it's not cruel or unjust to say someone is 'vacuous,' 'asinine' and has a 'chainsaw laugh'?

It's hypocritical to complain about pretending you can't say 'woman' and 'man' any more, but then saying certain jokes shouldn't be told.

Week in, week out, we see Amanda's pathetic attempts at comedy (and journalism) and yet she is trying to tell comedians what jokes they should tell.

Imagine her in another time, writing angry letters to Groucho Marx for:

Why don't we get married, and take a vacation? I'll need a vacation if we're going to get married. Married! I can see you now, in the kitchen, bending over a hot stove. But I can't see the stove!

Cruel. Unjust. Funny.

But cruel is having to suffer her drivel every week. Unjust is how she gets work in the media and other people - people with talent - can not.

And funny? Nope, can't think of anything funny about her.

Is this the worst attempt at a hatchet job ever?

The paper: Daily Mail

The target: X Factor contestant Stacey Solomon

The headline: The Dagenham Diva: Single mum Stacey's wowed the X Factor with her ditzy witterings, but is she the ingénue she seems?

The scandal:

But despite the squeaky-clean image on screen, friends paint a racier picture. There are tales of fancy dress parties where Stacey swept up her naturally dark hair into a beehive to emulate her idol, Amy Winehouse, and evenings in bars where she liked nothing better than to knock back glasses of Malibu and Coke and belt out karaoke hits.


Thursday, 29 October 2009

Pointless stories round up

Yesterday's Daily Express front page headline tried to get readers upset about an 'EU income tax' which the story made clear didn't exist.

The day before that, the front page was this:

It's hard to know exactly when 'it might be warm for a few days' became something to stick on the front page of a newspaper. Can you imagine the editorial meeting that decided that a prediction of what the weather might be like in two days is regarded as the most important news event of the day?

And it wasn't as if the prediction (70F on Thursday) was even accurate. According to the Met Office website, London temperatures got to 64F for about one hour, but otherwise it's been 62F or under.

So the Express' use of terms like 'basking', 'glorious' and 'balmy', accompanied by a picture of a (white) family making sandcastles, looks even more ridiculous now than it did on Tuesday. And it's not as if the Met Office spokesman didn't warn them:

Temperatures will peak on Thursday with 66-68F (19-20C) – even 70F (21C) at a squeeze

So '70F at a squeeze' becomes 'Britain gets 70F Indian summer'. Brilliant.

Today, the Express comes up with this for the front page:

Although this one does appear to be based in fact, is the news that a dog has been killed really worthy of a front page? Yes, it's an unpleasant event and yes, the teenage owner is no doubt devastated. But front page news?

The story begins:

Animal welfare campaigners were left shocked and stunned last night after a teenage yob stamped a puppy to death in front of its owner.

Not just 'shocked'. Not just 'stunned'. But 'shocked and stunned'.

It continues:

the Jack Russell, its tail wagging, wandered over to three teenage boys in jeans and hooded tops.Suddenly and for no reason, one of the gang callously stamped on the tiny animal’s head.

'Its tail wagging'? How much more emotive do they want to get? But note how the story says 'teenage yob' and 'one of the gang', yet the front page headline said 'thugs'.

So one vile little sod kills a puppy and this makes the Express ask 'what has happened to this country?' Must be the fault of Labour and the immigrants.

The story also contains an interesting use of the term 'social commentators':

But social commentators warned that such behaviour was only symptomatic of the wider problem of Britain’s hooligan culture.

Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling said...

Tory MP Philip Davies was also appalled by the attack.

And apart from an RSPCA spokeswoman, no one else is quoted. Since when did MPs - Conservative or otherwise - become billed as 'social commentators'?

The Express could have run with the story about the latest bomb blasts in Pakistan, which the Guardian put on its front page. But clearly 101 dead Muslims are regarded as less important than one dead Jack Russell.

Or, for a paper which boasts a poppy on its masthead, it could have led with the Nimrod inquiry which uncovered 'lamentable' failures by senior military figures led to the deaths of 14 service personnel in Afghanistan in 2006.

But the Express decides neither of these stories is important enough. So it goes with the dead pup and, also on the front page, the news that a well-loved but (whisper it) not very good actress is leaving a soap.

The Express really is a dire excuse for a newspaper.

But in terms of articles of mind-numbing pointlessness, yesterday's Mail might take some beating (although it has since appeared in other papers). If you're a Sagittarian, you are twice as likely to hit the big time turned up on page five of the Mail. And what's it about? Believe it or not, this:

Researchers analysed the zodiac signs of 100 celebrities from the past and present, looking for those who made their big breakthrough in their youth.

They discovered those born under Sagittarius are twice as likely to hit the big time than those born under any other sign.

Yes, that's right. It's almost impossible to know how civilisation has managed to get to this point without this knowledge. Forget gravity, this is what the world really needed to know. It's not just an excuse to put a picture of Sagittarian Britney Spears in the paper and plug the Cartoon Network, who did the 'survey'. Honest.

With such a statistically insignificant sample, another 100 would almost certainly find another star sign out in front. And yet this 'story' is what the Mail decided had to go on page five of its paper yesterday.

Page five.

Recommended reads

Angry Mob has revealed how the latest PC gone mad story from the Mail - about parents being banned from playgrounds - has been rejected by the very Council accused.

He also explains how the story of a man's death has been twisted by both the Mail and the Mirror to make it something it wasn't.

Anton reveals the latest anti-Muslim nonsense from the Express, as the paper goes to Islam4Uk for yet another story. It's almost as if the Express can't function without reporting on loudmouths spouting deliberately inflammatory crap, and the loudmouths no doubt enjoy seeing their utternaces in a national newspaper.

Anton has also written about the Mail's quite unbelievably hypocritical article complaining about naked female flesh on the cover of men's magazines. This is the same website, which has this pic on it.

At Hagley Road to Ladywood, Claude has pointed out that the Mail's rhetoric on immigrants and against the BBC sounds suspiciously like the BNP.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Sun pays damages to Tom Watson MP

The Sun has joined the Mail on Sunday in paying damages to MP Tom Watson over claims he was involved in the Damien McBride plot to smear Conservative politicians. The MediaGuardian explains:

Lawyers for Sun publisher News Group Newspapers, a subsidiary of News International, said today that the paper accepted the stories were untrue. The Sun has agreed to pay Watson's legal costs and "a substantial sum" in damages...

The Sun has apologised to Labour MP Tom Watson in the high court today...[but] It is understood that the paper has not agreed to print an apology, however.

So the Sun apologises in court, agrees to pay damages, 'unreservedly withdrew the allegations' but nothing has appeared in print where the original allegations appeared? This seems most unusual - and surely can not remain the case for very long...

Express unveils plan so secret it doesn't exist

The Daily Express. The EU. Tax. Not the most thrilling topics to write about but anyway...

Today's Express front page is yet another of their eye-catching, scaremongering headlines which bears little resemblance to either the story or the truth.

'Secret plan for EU income tax' sounds as if the EU is engaged in a secret plan to impose an income tax on British taxpayers.

The story, written by Gabriel Milland, begins:

Secret plans to seize more than £4billion a year from Britain and make its citizens pay taxes direct to Europe emerged last night.

So 'income tax' has become 'taxes' in the first sentence. And the headline looks even more questionable when Milland writes a few paragraphs later:

Possible taxes suggested in the report – which could be discussed as soon as the start of the European summit in Brussels tomorrow – include levies on phone calls, flights, financial transactions or carbon emissions.

Right. So no 'income tax' then? Well, no. Nothing in the story suggests any such thing.

And note how these 'possible' taxes have only been 'suggested' and 'could' (and therefore won't) be discussed tomorrow. At the end of the article an EU spokesman says the report is a 'draft' and 'work in progress'. And as the current EU budget runs until 2013, all of this is a very long way off. Whatever 'this' is.

Still, Milland has gone through his little black book of quote whores including the TaxPayers Alliance and several other Eurosceptics, who all express something like concern. But about what?

Does this amount to anything? Unfortunately, Milland's writing is pretty poor and it is hard to work out what he is actually on about under all the anti-EU rhetoric. At one point he says:

The proposals would see big cuts to programmes like the Common Agricultural Policy which sees tens of billions of pounds paid to small farmers in countries like France.

But in return Britain would be expected to give up its £4.1billion a year rebate, first agreed by Mrs Thatcher in 1984.

Countries 'like France'? Which countries are 'like France'?

But if the EU wants Britain to stop getting the rebate, and that equals the £4bn extra it wants from Britain, doesn't that make it all square?

You would think. But elsewhere, Milland says the 'new taxes' would:

have to raise about £6.4billion a year

So do they want £4bn or £6.4bn? Do they want extra taxes or the rebate withdrawn? Do they really want an income tax? Does Milland even know?

The story has been re-posted on both Stormfront and the website of David Icke. If both of them are pushing it as true, you just know something isn't right about it.

Gyles Brandreth predicted this Mail headline ten years ago

Last week the Mail was serialising Gyles Brandreth's latest diaries. On Monday 19 October they published extracts running to over 2,600 words. It included Gyles recalling an interview he did with Prince Philip in 1999:

One myth, I told him, 'is that you're a stick-in-the mud, oldfashioned. In fact, I think you're a moderniser'. To get him to say anything, you have to provoke him. 'No, no, not for the sake of modernising, like some bloody Blairite, not for the sake of buggering about with things. I'm anxious to get things done.'

(I'm not a proper journalist, am I? Already I know that I'm going to remove the Blairite reference. HRH said it, on the record: I was there to interview him, notebook in hand. To quote him would be entirely legitimate, but if I use the line, that's the story. 'Duke attacks "bloody Blair".')

In the entire two-page spread, that is the only reference to Blair. Yet what is the misleading and entirely predictable headline the Mail gives the article?

What Prince Philip really thinks about that b****y man Tony Blair

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Mail buries story that Britain isn't worst place in Europe to live

A couple of weeks ago, the media was giving a quite staggering amount of coverage to a uSwitch press release which made out Britain was the worst place in Europe to live. It was based on some highly selective criteria and omitted 80% of the countries in Europe, but that didn't stop the Mail running it as the lead story on its website and Littlejohn repeating the nonsense a few days later.

It was a prime example of churnalism, and gained uSwitch a lot of free publicity.

Today another survey, this time the Legatum Institute's 2009 Prosperity Index. This one covers 104 countries from all over the world and takes into account:

data on economic growth with ratings for democracy, social provision, happiness and quality of life.

And the result?

Britain is ranked 12th overall. Ahead of Spain, France and Germany, which were higher in the dubious uSwitch list.

So surely the Mail will be saying this is a good sign that Britain isn't such a bad place to live after all? Not a bit of it:

Britain has failed to make it into the top ten of a list of the world's most successful countries

The Mail is just never satisfied. Despite the fact Britain rose from 17th in 2007 and 14th in 2008, the original headline on the website referred to 'unhappy UK'. If it goes up to tenth next year, the Mail will probably complain it's not in the top five.

But what is striking is that this list hasn't had anything like the prominence on the Mail website as the uSwitch one, and is buried on page 28 of the paper. Chances are, Littlejohn won't mention it in his column on Friday either.

Why? Because it doesn't fit their agenda that everything in Britain is crap (and it's all the fault of those immigrants).

Another video game accused of murder

The print edition of today's Daily Mail contains a story with the headline 'Video game axe killer'. It reveals how 17 year old James Callaghan went on a rampage which ended with the brutal murder of a 65 year old widow.

Here are some excerpts from the Mail's story:

A schizophrenic teenager killed a grandmother with an axe when he went on a drunken rampage...

After drinking a bottle of vodka, James Callaghan, 17, stormed out of his home in a rage armed with an axe and a long-bladed knife.

He threatened to attack two girls, struck a passer-by on the head with the axe, terrified a cyclist and tried to smash his way into a couple's flat...

After his arrest Callaghan was diagnosed as being a paranoid schizophrenic. He told psychiatrists that for several months he had been hearing voices in his head urging him to kill and had seen a man 'with horns on his head'. He said he began drinking heavily to cope with these visions.

He was known by his friends to be violent after drinking alcohol.

As a six-year-old he had threatened his mother with a kitchen knife...

While a young child Callaghan had been referred to the community psychiatric nurse on three occasions as his mother struggled to control his behaviour.

So a schizophrenic teenager with a history of violence and psychiatric problems gets drunk and goes on the rampage with an axe.

And yet this is the fault of a video game? Oh yes. According to the Mail:

In the hours before the rampage, Callaghan lost three consecutive games of Fifa 2008, playing at home against his younger brother and a friend. He also played the computer game Grand Theft Auto, which sends the player's character on a violent crime spree.

Even the online version of the story, which has a different headline, implies a link between the games and the murder:

Teenager killed widow with axe in drink-fuelled rage after losing a computer game to his brother

And the Mail wasn't the only one to blame the game either:

Yob killed widow after losing computer game (Express)
Crazed teen's game rampage (Sun)
Murder after teen loses video game (Mirror)

Yet neither the BBC, nor the local paper mentions video games, choosing instead to stick to the facts.

On Saturday, the Mail was pinning a murder on Reservoir Dogs. Now this. Why not report crime and mental health issues seriously rather than lazily using a game or film as an easy scapegoat?

And despite the schizophrenia this teenager was suffering from, the majority of people leaving comments on the story want him executed:

Why are we concentrating on this scum who should be turned into manure and spread on fields?
Mozza, Telford, 26/10/2009 18:00

Patronising headline of the year?

A new study by the University of Kent claims date rape drugs are an urban myth. The study's sample - 200 students - seems quite small for such a sweeping statement, but the conclusion suits the Mail just fine, because it can blame alcohol for women being raped, rather than rapists.

But whatever the pros and cons of the study, did the Mail really need to treat the story so flippantly by putting this unbelievably patronising headline on it:

Eamonn Holmes can't think for himself

In Sunday's People, Eamonn Holmes became the latest ignorant 'journalist' to repeat the completely untrue 'immigrant saved from deportation by his cat' story. He writes:

If you are an illegal immigrant facing deportation from the UK then don't worry - just tell the authorities that you have a cat and they will let you stay.

Well, they won't, because that isn't what happened, but do go on...

That was the case for a Bolivian man who was due to be sent home. Then judges ruled that deporting him would breach his human rights by interfering with his family life - his family being his girlfriend and a cat.

Well, that wasn't 'the case' at all. But do go on...

I can see the signs as you enter Dover: "A cat is for life not just for Christmas... in fact it's for a whole new life. Welcome to Britain."

Invented signs for an invented story. Brilliant. How does he do it?

The story, incidentally, was debunked by Donal McIntyre - and the man's lawyer - on BBC Radio Five Live on Sunday.

How many more times is it going to be repeated before columnists and journalists do the slightest bit of research and find out it's rubbish?

And isn't it clearer than ever than Littlejohn, Platell, Holmes and their ilk just regurgitate crap they have read in other papers, with a few spiteful comments and woeful attempts at humour added. No independent thinking or common sense or research required.

With Holmes, you doubt the readers even got to the cat bit however. After all, he began his column with the striking revelation:

Funerals are always sad occasions

Most people should have given up right there.

Daily Star sets on 'good taste'

There has been much media coverage of the homophobic attack that left trainee policeman James Parkes in hospital, fighting for his life, with:

multiple skull fractures and fractures of his eye-socket and cheek bone.

It comes just a couple of weeks after Ian Baynham died from injuries sustained in a homophobic attack in London.

The headlines on the stories of the latest crime vary slightly. The BBC's Homophobic attack on trainee Pc and Independent's Police officer fights for life after homophobic attack are straightforward.

Both the Mail (Gay off-duty PC left fighting for life after horrific assault by mob of homophobic teenage thugs) and the Sun (Gay policeman is beaten up by teenagers for being homosexual) feel the need to emphasise 'gay' eventhough a homophobic attack would hardly be on anyone else.

Yet it is encouraging to see the papers covering the story. Compare that to the disgraceful way the murder of Michael Causer, also gay, also from Liverpool was hardly mentioned at all by the media.

And there's always one paper which shows the old prejudices still exist. The tabloids show these prejudices all the time and, as Jan Moir proved, even a tragic death doesn't usually stop them.

But can there really be any excuse for the Daily Star to write about the attack on Parkes under the headline:

Tasteless, unpleasant, stupid. Yes, you don't expect much else from the Star, but can they really not even accept a 'gay' might exist without putting quote marks around the word.

The last time they wrote about a yeti/Bigfoot they didn't feel the need to put quote marks around the words. So why do it with gay?

Of course, given that it was a homophobic attack, the fact of Parkes' sexuality inevitably becomes part of the story.

Yet if an ethnic minority police officer - trainee or otherwise - had been assaulted, would the Star write: Yobs set on 'black'? OK, with the Star you never know, but it's highly unlikely.

But such wording - and such a use of quote marks - serves only as an on attack minority groups, to emphasise that they are 'different'. And the attacks on Baynham and Parkes show why this daily vilification of minorities is so dangerous.

Express admits publishing made-up quotes

From the Express:

On October 13 we published an article supplied by Men's Health headed "9 simple steps to lower your blood pressure".

The article referred to advice given by Professors Cappuccio and Ferro.

We are happy to make clear that neither professor contributed to the article and did not give the quotes attributed to them.

They state that the advice given does not reflect current national guidelines and dissociate themselves from it.

Matt Barbour's original article (cached) contained seven quotes attributed to the two men. So that's seven deceptions in one short piece.

And the paper doesn't even apologise for it.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

How the PCC doesn't work

A couple of weeks ago, this blog revealed the extraordinary effort needed to make Richard Littlejohn and the Daily Mail withdraw the obviously incorrect claim most robberies were committed by Eastern Europeans. While you would think it would be easy to correct something so obviously bogus, it was a lengthy process because the Mail decided to ignore the Press Complaints Commission for over a month, and Littlejohn tried to repeat the claim in the clarification.

If you thought that was bad, read on.

The same reader who complained about Littlejohn also contacted the PCC about Carole Malone's claim that immigrants get 'free cars' when they arrive in the Britain. Thankfully, the article has been removed from the News of the World site but if you Google the headline 'I’ll give you a real benefits sob story!' it is still available on elsewhere.

In a column full of frothing anti-immigrant myth-making, Malone spewed:

All you have to do to get everything Britain has to offer is to turn up illegally with some sob story of how your own country is too dangerous or that you're a lesbian who'll be shot if you stay there and Hey Presto, it's like you've won the lottery! And, in effect, they HAVE. Free houses, free cars, free healthcare and free money. Hell, they don't even have to work or speak the language. Even the suggestion they should is seen as racist in Brown's Britain.

It's a dismal and depressing couple of paragraphs. But here's your starter for ten: who is she on about?

'Turning up illegally' implies illegal immigrants. But they wouldn't need a sob story to stay, and certainly don't get any benefits.

The 'sob story' and 'free houses and money' implies asylum seekers, but they don't turn up illegally and aren't allowed to work.

This becomes an important point in the correspondence that followed. But more on that later.

Because of the strict PCC rules on complaints, especially about columns such as Littlejohn's or Malone's, the complainant stuck to one fact: no one gets free cars.

Not only did this violate Clause 1 of the Code of Practice that the:

'Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information'

but also ignored the PCC Guidance Note on Reporting on Refugees and Asylum Seekers, which highlights:

the danger that inaccurate, misleading or distorted reporting may generate an atmosphere of fear and hostility that is not borne out by the facts.

To their credit, the Deputy Managing Editor of the News of the World responded within a few days. The evasion started immediately:

Ms Malone is a famously trenchant columnist with forthright views and the tenor of her writing makes it clear that she is expressing an opinion.

Stating that people get treated like they have 'won the lottery' - as Malone does - is an opinion. It happens to be totally misleading and overblown (£35 per week is like winning the lottery?), but it is an opinion.

Claiming people get 'free cars' is not an opinion. It's either true or it isn't. And it isn't, so it breaches the Code.

But what was their excuse for the 'free car' claim anyway? Believe it or not, this:

Ms Malone is referring, for example, to the widely accepted and unchallenged reports of the £28,500 Toyota Prius that Omar Bakri Mohammed obtained from Currie Motors with a grant from the Government's Motability scheme.

Yes, really. Note the 'for example' as if this is just one of many they could list. Instead, they point to one example from over four years ago, where someone was granted a car because of a disability after being in the country legally for over a decade.

Clearly that does not justify the claim that someone turns up illegally and 'hey presto' they get a free car.

The paper also tried to explain who Malone was referring to:

Throughout the piece, Ms Malone refers to 'immigrants' and never once to 'asylum seekers'

before going on to explain that she only refers to 'illegal immigrants' in the paragraph before the 'free cars' one.

So the Deputy Managing Editor confirms Malone was referring to illegal immigrants having a sob story in order to stay in the country and as getting free houses, cars, money and healthcare. Clearly, all that is completely wrong. And suggests that neither he, nor Malone, nor the paper have a clue about what terminology they should use. Indeed, he went on to claim:

I believe it would be abundantly clear to any of Ms Malone's readers that this is to demonstrate the vast range of people who might benefit from this country's largesse.

So he does think illegal immigrants get those benefits. And in other words - we can chuck any word describing immigrants around and we don't care if they're right or not. As long as readers know they're all getting benefits and cars, it's job done. It's arrogant and it's stupid.

So to reiterate: Carole Malone and the News of the World think illegal immigrants turn up in the UK needing a sob story that their own country is too dangerous so they can stay and receive free money, houses, cars and healthcare. And these illegal immigrants aren't even made to work for it.

Needless to say the complainant rejected this explanation out of hand, highlighting all the problems it raised.

The response of the News of the World? This:

Perhaps a way forward might be for Mr (...) to write a letter which I would be happy to consider for inclusion in our letters column. While items in our printed letters column are relatively short and to the point, I would also be prepared to consider a somewhat longer version to be published online.

Pathetic. Note it's not even guaranteed for publication, but would be 'considered for inclusion'. And which of the News of the World readers would take note of a short letter from some unknown member of the public rejecting a claim by one the paper's star columnists?

Needless to say, our complainant rejected that out of hand, making it clear that any correction had to come from the paper. With the News of the World not even engaging in discussion on the substantive points, the complainant said there seemed to be little option but for the Commission to adjudicate.

A month passed and the PCC was back in touch. The Commission had met and discussed the issue.

And their decision? Err, they didn't make one.

Whether through cowardice or ignorance, the Commission suggested that a further negotiation begin between paper and complainant to agree the wording of a clarification. The PCC never explained why they avoided adjudicating as the complainant had asked. Are they so desperate to avoid any ruling against a newspaper that they abdicate all responsibility now?

So the PCC got a wording from the paper for consideration:

A comment piece of 26 July about immigration issues suggested that those arriving in the UK from abroad generally received “free cars”. We emphasise this was a broad comment and fully accept that this will generally not occur.

Notice the very same tactic as the original Littlejohn wording - try to repeat the claim while pretending to withdraw it. By saying it will not 'generally occur' suggests it may occur, in some cases. On top of that, they didn't even want to name the writer who made the claim.

It was a feeble effort but the PCC added:

such a proposal...would appear to fall in line with the Commission’s general view on the matter

In other words: take it or you get nothing. Our complainant rejected it anyway and suggested the following:

In Carole Malone's column of 26 July, she claimed illegal immigrants receive 'free cars' among other benefits. We now accept illegal immigrants do not receive any such benefits and apologise for the error.

This was never going to be accepted by the paper - claiming illegal immigrants get benefits is a tabloid staple - but it was worth a try, eventhough it didn't cover asylum seekers and immigrants generally.

The paper responded, and this wording was forwarded by the PCC:

On July 26, our columnist Carole Malone claimed illegal immigrants receive 'free cars' among other benefits. We now accept illegal immigrants do not receive such a benefit and regret the error.

Now the paper was trying to say although illegal immigrants don't get cars, they do get other benefits. The hair-tearing was increasing. The complainant rejected that wording, and also suggested that rather than 'regretting' the error they should be apologising for such a damaging and potentially inflammatory lie.

On top of that, he wondered why the original article had not been removed from the paper's website, as is normal when a complaint is ongoing. Only then did the paper take Malone's stupid column down and offered this wording:

On July 26, our columnist Carole Malone claimed illegal immigrants receive 'free cars'. We now accept illegal immigrants do not receive such a benefit and apologise for the error.

This corrected some of the problems with the previous wording, but others remained. If the News of the World admits that the 'free cars' bit referred to 'illegal immigrants' then the free house, money and healthcare did as well. So why wouldn't it be willing to correct those claims too?

The PCC note accompanying the latest News of the World offer added:

the Commission would consider this to be sufficient under the Code.

This left the complainant in a hopeless position. To accept it would mean something inadequate would be published. To reject it would almost certainly mean that nothing would be published. The Commission would have ruled that 'sufficient' remedy had been offered and so would probably have found against the complaint.

The complainant asked the PCC if they would push the paper to clarify the point about other benefits. The PCC confirmed they wouldn't:

The point about “free cars” is demonstrably untrue and, as such, the newspaper is willing to correct the point and offer an apology. It has also removed the article from its website following your request. Personally – and the Commission has already considered the matter initially – I think that this would be seen to be enough.

The PCC added:

I think that the problem relates to the manner in which the article was written, as it is not entirely clear to whom the reference in question refers.

So eventhough the PCC admits the terminology used is dreadful, they were basically saying: this is the best you will get.

The complainant was essentially cornered by the paper and the PCC. On top of that, after two months of wrangling, he was just fed up and disillusioned with the whole process - especially after having to deal with the Mail complaint too.

So our reader agreed to the wording. He asked that it appear on the same page as the next Carole Malone column. The paper refused, instead offering to place it in an above-the-fold box on page 19 (where the original column appeared) or earlier. The reason was that as the apology:

carries the weight of the News of the World as a whole

it wasn't appropriate to be on her page. You know, where people who might have read the original claim might see it. But being fed up and just wanting it over, the complainant agreed.

Although the paper has not published it on their website, as they should have, it appears on page 18 of today's edition. In a very small box. Hardly noticeable. Far more noticeable, is Carole Malone's latest column, which is another rant about how immigrants are getting everything, 'British people' aren't and that is why the BNP succeed.

Rather, she should be thinking the BNP succeed when the public believe there are no border controls and that immigrants get priority in health care and social housing because she, like most the tabloid media, keeps telling them it's true. Eventhough it isn't.

But back to the free cars, and this is not the way a complaints system should work. The News of the World and the PCC both knew that the claims made by Malone in that paragraph were bullshit but made it as hard as possible for the complainant to get any remedy. The process ground on for two months, with the paper having to have a vaguely suitable wording wrung out of it. And the PCC let them get away with it, by not helping the complainant push the paper for a entirely justified fuller correction.

By appearing to be on the side of the paper - as it so often appears - the PCC shows it is not doing the job a newspaper regulator should be doing. The press would be the first to complain if any other institution regulated itself. So why is it different? Other regulators - such Ofcom - are firmer, and can issue fines. Why can't the PCC?

These two complaints by our intrepid reader do raise another question, as highlighted by 5CC. What exactly is the PCC policy on third-party complaints?

In neither of these cases was the issue raised by either paper or PCC. Yet when the complaints started to flood in about the Jan Moir hate-fest, the PCC's initial reaction was to dismiss them as third-party complaints. As a rule, they say they will only deal with a complaint if the person who is the subject of the article is the one who complains.

Perhaps the Gately family were regarded as 'first-party' in that case. In these articles, aimed generically at Eastern Europeans and illegal immigrants, there was no 'first-party'. Yet in the past, this has meant the PCC would reject such complaints too.

It does make it all look rather arbitrary and like the PCC is just too cosy to the print media. Hardly surprising when there are newspaper and magazine editors all over the Commission's committees.

When everything is so weighted against the complainant, no wonder so many people don't bother complaining, and no wonder the press continue to get away with printing so much rubbish.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Amanda Platell and her rubbish column

Amanda Platell. Sigh.

Guess which new myth about immigration she repeats in her column today?

That's right. It's that bloody cat again:

Only this week a court ruled that an illegal immigrant should not be deported as it would breach his human right to a family because he and his girlfriend now had a cat together. Such cases make a mockery of the British courts.

No, Amanda - such cases make a mockery of journalists who can't be bothered to do the slightest bit of research.

So that's three times this week that claim has been made in the Mail - once with the story, then with Littlejohn and now her. Given the lawyer involved has made it clear it's not true, why keep repeating it? Either it's a deliberate attempt to lie about immigration, or they're all a bit thick.

Probably both. But maybe it's more to do with laziness than stupidity. After all, if Amanda was really thick, she'd think 19 was a higher number than 24.

She does? Oh yes:

Commons Leader Harriet Harman has rewarded Parliament with the longest Christmas break since records began.

This year's Christmas break for MPs is 19 days. Last year it was 24 days. So not even the longest break since last year.

Still at least the former Conservative Party advisor wouldn't just indulge in partisan political points. Would she?

'Parliament is not yet fit for the 21st century,' thunders the Prime Minister. Why not? Because we don't have enough 'lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender candidates'.

So that's where it all went wrong then, Gordon. Not the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the banking collapse, the failing schools or corrupt MPs, but the sexual diversity quotas in Westminster.

What planet is he on?

Oh, she would. Maybe it's a planet where 24 days is longer than 19 days? But that's a fairly twisted interpretation and Brown never claimed that was 'where it all went wrong' or anything like it. More to the point, as Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg all said much the same things about the need for more MPs who are not white men, why pick on him alone? Cameron said:

under-representation of women and ethnic minorities was a 'real problem for Parliament and it's been an even greater problem for my party'.

And the Liberal Democrat leader said:

'Our Parliament pretends to represent modern Britain but it doesn't have modern Britain in it.'

Still, while she's having petty partisan pops at political folk she doesn't like, she might as well needlessly attack the Obamas again. A couple of weeks ago she curiously referred to Barack as having:

about as much charisma as a packet of cheese and onion crisps.

Barack Obama has been accused of many things but a lack of charisma? Still, she'd know all about politicians with charisma, having worked for, er, William Hague.

Today, it's Michelle she doesn't like. Why? Because she has done some hula-hooping. How dare she!

Am I the only one who, on seeing the picture of Michelle Obama swinging a hula-hoop around her hips, accompanied by a quote from the President saying 'My wife is the best hulahooper I know', felt more than a little nauseous?

Err, yes, you are.

She's supposed to be the First Lady, for heaven's sake, not a children's TV presenter.

Yes. How dare Michelle have a little bit of fun at a Healthy Kids Fair - designed to encourage kids to exercise more and eat better. And she did manage 142 hoops which, at a guess, is more than green-eyed Amanda can manage.

She also drips her bile on Alesha Dixon, who she infamously called a 'chocolate labrador', and who she still wants sacked from Strictly Come Dancing. After the ridiculous media over-reaction against Dixon following her first appearance as a judge on the show, the papers have hardly said a word. Not Amanda:

If a ratings-boost is required by the BBC, the solution is simple - bring Arlene back, and put Alesha 'Ditto' Dixon back on the dancefloor where she belongs.

Anyone who saw Arlene Phillips' dismal performance on Have I Got News For You might well wonder what the fuss is about. She spoke about twice during the broadcast programme, a clear indication her contributions were hilariously unmissable. Or not.

Still, hardly a surprise that Amanda doesn't know anything about popular culture either. Because in her desperation to attack yet another more successful (and, ahem, younger) woman she turns her attention to Nicole Kidman, who spoke out about violence against women in films a few days ago. Platell sniffs that complaining about women being portrayed as 'weak sex objects' would be:

marginally more credible if Kidman hadn't taken millions of dollars for playing a succession of just such parts.

Roles such as playing a high-class hooker in Moulin Rouge, a robotic spouse in Stepford Wives, a sexually confused wife in Eyes Wide Shut, a mailorder bride in Birthday Girl and a young tart on stage in The Blue Room.

Hmm. Well, that wasn't a 'succession of parts' as there were other films in-between those ones. And in Stepford Wives she was (spoiler!) never transformed into a robotic wife, but played along to uncover the mystery. In The Blue Room she played five different roles, including a 'young tart', but neither that nor the characters in Birthday Girl and Eyes Wide Shut were exactly 'weak'. In Moulin Rogue she was only weak in the sense she was dying.

And she certainly wouldn't have taken 'million of dollars' appearing on stage. But Amanda ends:

Is Nicole really turning her back on sexist, exploitative roles? Or, now she's 42, have they turned their back on her?

Having failed to make her case, she comes to a catty conclusion. She's too old and passed it at 42 to be sexy! And yet she's ten years younger than Amanda.

Isn't it time the media turned it's back on Amanda? Not because of her age, but because she writes badly researched, superficial nonsense.

Mail doesn't want violent criminals deported to 'where they came from' shock

The Mail's latest attempt to blame violent films, video games and Facebook for anything and everything comes in the story Vietnam veteran killed boss in Reservoir Dogs-style attack after slipping into UK despite string of convictions.

As he's 53, it's doubtful he was a Vietnam vet as the last US combat troops left 37 years ago, when he was around 16.

But Reservoir Dogs? Did he dress in white shirt with black suit and tie and chop someone's ear off while singing early 70s pop songs? Did he change his name to a colour and shoot someone during a diamond heist?

Well, no:

Russell Carter, 53, held the men at gunpoint in their office and forced them to transfer cash to his bank account.

He tied up three of the hostages, then took company director Kingsley Monk into another room where he brutally attacked him with a metal pipe before strangling him with his own tie.

OK, so one hostage was tied up in Reservoir Dogs, but other than that, none of that happened in the film. But wait:

In a scene recalling Quentin Tarantino's 1992 film Reservoir Dogs, Carter then drenched the remaining hostages in petrol, spread more around the office and set it alight before fleeing.

Of course, while one hostage was doused in petrol, no one was actually set on fire in an office in the film.

The Sun also refers to it as a:

Reservoir Dogs style slaughter

eventhough the one man who died was killed in ways which are nowhere to be seen in the film.

So why try and blame the film, rather than the fact that Carter was a nasty, violent man who:

was convicted of armed robbery in California in 1979 and again in 1985 when he was jailed for 20 years.

California? So he was one of those violent foreigners who come to this country to commit their crimes?

Well, not really. He was born in Britain and held dual citizenship.

Imagine the Daily Mail, in America, in 1985. After Carter's second conviction for armed robbery they would be demanding this person be deported 'back to where he came from'. Britain.

And yet, Carter's crime is the fault of...America:

It emerged that British-born Carter had a record of armed violence in the U.S. but immigration officials were not warned when he returned to this country ten years ago.

The comments include:

And another loony is let into Britain
- Despair, Kent, 23/10/2009 14:59


Maybe Nick Griffin has a point,keep importing criminal scum like this and what do you expect??
- Tel em straight, Zefat Israel, 23/10/2009 16:57

Importing? He's British-born! And then:

Send him back to USA let him serve his sentence there. Why the hell should we keep him?
- Richard, Torrevieja, Spain, 23/10/2009 17:01

Which contains an interesting use of the word 'we' for someone living in Spain.

And over at The Sun:

Let him serve it back in the States.
posted by: VigilanteMan

Hmm. So whereas the Mail and Sun and their readers are all too keen to demand the deportation of criminals back to their country of origin, if they are British, they shouldn't return to Britain. To quote one Mail comment:

What he did was horrific and absolutely the US authorities should have informed the UK police of any criminal activitites or time served in prison, but you can't argue that he shouldn't have been allowed back to the UK and then argue in the same breath that immigrant criminals should be deported.
- C Martin, Auckland, New Zealand, 24/10/2009 2:14

Quite right.

Diana again (sorry)

Today's Express screams: Diana: New Sensation.

Really? A sensation? A new sensation?

Is she alive?

No. Still dead, apparently.

So, sigh, what is it this time?

Apparently, a civil court in Paris has ruled that there were:

'unnecessary delays' in investigating a mix-up over controversial blood tests.

Accordingly, the Court of Grand Instance fined the French Republic £5,000 to be paid to Mohammed Al Fayed (he had wanted one million). The Express still quotes him favourably:

'It is a major step towards uncovering the truth about what really happened that night. I am delighted that the French court has recognised that I have been denied justice.'

They didn't recognise any such thing, but the Express doesn't both to challenge that statement. But ummm haven't we been through all this before - several times over? Why can't the Express just leave this alone?

Richard Palmer and Peter Allen's story begins:

Senior French officials who investigated Princess Diana’s death were blamed for a cover-up yesterday in a dramatic court ruling which condemned them for failing to check whether vital evidence was forged.

Ah - a 'cover-up'. That again. Except, it was more of a cock-up than 'cover-up' and the article contains a quote that proves they weren't blamed for the latter:

In their ruling, published yesterday, the French judges maintained that, although there had been 'formal mistakes', they 'had no long-term repercussions on the revealing of the truth'.

Still, at least sticking nonsense about Diana on the front page means we are spared the BNP slogans or disgraceful scaremongering about Muslims. At least Diana conspiracies are harmless lying in comparison.

Corrections round up

The Sun - Tabloid Lies reveals the newspaper's latest admission of error over an 'Islamic terrorist' story. The apology to Abdul Muneem Patel reads:

On 29 March and 1 April last year we reported that Mr Patel was an evil terrorist who had been jailed for his part in a transatlantic jet terror plot.

While he had been convicted under Section 58 of the Terrorism Act of possessing material that might be useful to terrorists, the court accepted that he unwittingly held documents for a friend of his father.

Mr Patel has never had any involvement with terrorism acts.

We are happy to set the record straight and apologise to him.

'Happy to set the record straight'? Is that why it has taken eighteen months for the apology to appear?

Septicisle wrote about the original article and exposed its faults when it appeared. So why did it take the PCC and Sun so long to realise the problems?

Elsewhere, the PCC have formerly noted the resolution of the case against the News of the World and the Mail from Fabio Capello and his wife:

The complaint was resolved when the newspaper accepted that internal procedures - warning of Mr Capello's concerns - had failed and that the pictures were published in error. It apologised to the Capellos, gave undertakings for the future, and - at the request of the Capellos - made a substantial donation to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.

On a less serious note, this clarification from The Guardian:

Errors appeared in an interview with Matthew Slotover and Amanda Sharp, who own Frieze magazine and the events company that stages the Frieze art fair.

In connection with part of the piece that quoted them talking about founding the contemporary art magazine, it has been pointed out to us that the masthead of the first edition of Frieze in 1991 listed the founding editors as the artist Tom Gidley and Matthew Slotover, and Amanda Sharp as advertising and PR.

Elsewhere in our article, the 2005 figure of £2.5m should have been given as the art fair’s turnover – fees from visitors and exhibitors – not as its profit; the height of its tent walls should have been given as 12ft not 12m. Amanda Sharp’s surname sometimes appeared wrongly in the piece as Smart (All the fun of the fair, 3 October, page 34).

But apart from that, the article was entirely reliable.

Recommended reading

Anton has done an excellent post which suggests the tabloids may just be a little hypocritical in criticising the BNP while all-too-frequently publishing front pages which push the same anti-immigrant, anti-Islam agenda as that party.

Anton has done two other posts on immigration, one about tabloid lies, one about the 70 million population figure. 5CC has also posted on the latter.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Jan Moir makes her position clear - she's an unrepentant bigot

So after a week of prevarication, Jan Moir has used her (advertising free) column today to clarify what she wrote about Stephen Gately last week.

Well, not clarify, exactly. Repeat all the same baseless, innuendo-heavy stuff for a second time. Claim she was entirely misrepresented, the victim of an orchestrated campaign (by who?) and complained about by people who hadn't read the article (proof?).

One of the most dismal aspects of this piece is the apology she gives to the Gately family:

I would like to say sorry if I have caused distress by the insensitive timing of the column, published so close to the funeral.

Right, so she's not sorry for what she actually said, just when she said it. Charming. She just doesn't get it.

To everyone else, there is no apology. She only says:

I regret any affront caused.

In other words: stuff you. Because if she really regretted causing affront, she wouldn't repeat many of the same allegations for a second time. She writes:

if drugs were somehow involved in his death, as news reports suggested, should that not be a matter of public interest?

We were told that Stephen died of 'natural causes' even before toxicology results had been released. This struck me as bizarre, given the circumstances.

Circumstances of course which Moir didn't really know, apart from some newspaper reports. Toxicology results which she didn't know either. But rather than wait, she decided she knew best - and clearly she still does. Better than the coroner, in fact. Sadly she didn't explain how the drugs she seems to know he took caused the fluid on his lungs which killed him.

She then claims she never said something which she did say:

I have never thought, or suggested, that what happened that night represented a so-called gay lifestyle; this is not how most gay people live.

Odd, given she said this:

Gay activists are always calling for tolerance and understanding about same-sex relationships, arguing that they are just the same as heterosexual marriages. Not everyone, they say, is like George Michael.

Of course, in many cases this may be true. Yet the recent death of Kevin McGee, the former husband of Little Britain star Matt Lucas, and now the dubious events of Gately's last night raise troubling questions about what happened.

Now assuming she picked the example of George Michael because of his antics in public toilets, then she is saying not everyone is like him in 'many cases'. Not most.

She fails to clarify why the death of Kevin McGee was in any way relevant to Gately. Probably because she knows it isn't. She pretends that her vile observation that Gately's death:

strikes another blow to the happy-ever-after myth of civil partnerships

was that:

there was a 'happy ever after myth' surrounding such unions was that they can be just as problematic as heterosexual marriages.

But this was a myth she seemed to invent for her column. Whoever said that no civil partnership would ever end in separation? Who claimed there were never going to be unhappy civil partners?

Indeed, when she writes:

If he had been a heterosexual member of a boy band, I would have written exactly the same article

it's a blatant lie. She would not have written about the myth of happy-ever-after heterosexual marriage. She would not have mentioned whoever she thinks the straight version of George Michale might be, or suggested they were representative. She wouldn't have referred to 'straight activists'. And she almost certainly wouldn't have referred to a:

very different and more dangerous lifestyle.

She lies:

Absolutely none of this had anything to do with his sexuality.

Anyone who knows me will vouch that I have never held such poisonous views.

Well, the article last week was poisonous, and if she really thinks people will believe her saying his sexuality had nothing to do with it, she's totally deluded.

She writes:

To be the focus of such depth of feeling has been an interesting experience, but I do not complain.

Followed by:

This brings me back to the bile, the fury, the inflammatory hate mail and the repeated posting of my home address on the internet.


To say it was a hysterical overreaction would be putting it mildly


I can't help wondering: is there a compulsion today to see bigotry and social intolerance where none exists by people who are determined to be outraged?

All of which sounds a lot like her complaining.

And a 'hysterical overreaction'? Clearly she's so repentant she's calling everyone who was offended 'hysterical'. Not in the least like the Mail-orchestrated Sachsgate affair, of course, in which Moir played her miserable role.

That applies to her point about people 'determined to be outraged'. The default position of the Daily Mail is to be 'determined to be outraged' day in, day out.

The fact is, people saw bigotry and social intolerance because it did exist in her sorry little rant.

And there are other contradictions. Last week she described Gately as a:

founder member of Ireland's first boy band, he was the group's co-lead singer, even though he could barely carry a tune in a Louis Vuitton trunk...popular but largely decorous.

Whereas this week, he was:

a talented young man

And of her claim that there was 'nothing natural' about his death, she says:

My assertion that there was 'nothing natural' about Stephen's death has been wildly misinterpreted.

What I meant by 'nothing natural' was that the natural duration of his life had been tragically shortened in a way that was shocking and out of the ordinary. Certainly, his death was unusual enough for a coroner to become involved.

When any 33-year old dies suddenly, a coroner would almost certainly be involved. This does not make it 'not natural', nor does it support her original claim.

And her attempts to explain 'nothing natural' is just bizarre. Here's what she said:

Healthy and fit 33-year-old men do not just climb into their pyjamas and go to sleep on the sofa, never to wake up again.

Whatever the cause of death is, it is not, by any yardstick, a natural one. Let us be absolutely clear about this.

In her original response, she backtracked, saying:

Anyone can die at anytime of anything

But now she seems to be suggesting they can't, again.

She claims she was showered with support too:

I also had thousands of supportive emails from readers and well-wishers, many of whom described themselves as 'the silent majority'. The outcry was not as one-sided as many imagine.

Really? So homophobic Mail readers sent supportive emails. What a surprise. But as there were over 25,000 complaints, that's a lot of emails to receive if she is to justify the claim it wasn't one sided. How many thousands was it? Even the comments on the Mail website were hugely against her. That's how 'silent' they were.

Oh, and is she sure all those 'thousands' of supporters read the article? Because she repeats her claim that her piece was:

unread by many who complained.

Can she provide the slightest evidence for this? How can she possibly know that they didn't read it? What proof does she have?

It's also an odd claim for someone who spoke out about the BBC Sachsgate affair, where the tens of thousands of people who did complain only did so after reading about it in the Mail, not having heard the radio show live. Moir included. So add hypocrite to all the other charges.

She also tries to re-state her view that this was all:

an orchestrated campaign by pressure groups and those with agendas of their own.

In fact, as she isn't on Twitter, she wouldn't have a clue. What was noticeable was watching the sheer number of people taking an entirely natural reaction against her column. After having read it.

Who does she think is the conductor of this orchestra? What agenda does she think is behind it? Naturally, she doesn't explain. And, of course, she's not complaining about it.

And then she admits:

I accept that many people - on Twitter and elsewhere - were merely expressing their own personal and heartfelt opinions or grievances.

Oh right. So a cynical, orchestrated campaign by non-readers and mischievous gay activists was also heartfelt and personal grievances. Last week they were 'mischievous', now they are 'heartfelt'? What is she on about? Have the Mail executives been adding bits to try and take the heat off? Because it hasn't worked.

Towards the end she sets up a straw man to knock down:

Can it really be that we are becoming a society where no one can dare to question the circumstances or behaviour of a person who happens to be gay without being labelled a homophobe? If so, that is deeply troubling.

Who has suggested you can't question? She entirely misses the point of what people found so offensive.

And frankly, if you have to spend 890 words explaining what you really meant in a 917 word article, you clearly ain't much of a writer anyway.

No doubt the Mail - and Moir - will expect this to be the end of the matter. Unfortunately, they will be wrong. This is not an apology, but someone who is in a hole and continuing to dig. There is nothing in here that corrects the egregious errors of judgement in her homophobic rant last week.

In fact, by playing the victim, stating she has been entirely misunderstood (yes, over 25,000 people all misinterpreted the words in the same way), saying the complainers haven't read what she wrote and then repeating claims that there was something untoward about Gately's death means this will rumble on.

Jan Moir: Twitter trending topic, for a second consecutive Friday.