Monday, 19 October 2009

Littlejohn lies about a cat (to go with the two recent lies about dogs)

As predicted earlier today in a blog post about the nonsensical 'cat saves immigrant from deportation' story, Richard Littlejohn has included it in his column tomorrow.

He has lied twice about dogs recently, so why not lie about a cat too?

The story as presented by the Sunday Telegraph, Mail, Express, Sun and Star (and BNP) is not accurate, but that has never stopped Littlejohn before. He writes:

A Bolivian man living illegally in Britain has won his appeal against deportation on the grounds that he has a cat.

Well, it wasn't on those grounds at all. But never let the facts get in the way of a good anti-immigrant rant, eh?

Littlejohn even includes the scaremongering - and entirely irrelevant - bit from the Sunday Telegraph article that implies all immigrants are up to no good:

The case comes in a week in which the same court refused to deport 50 foreign criminals, including killers and sex offenders, because it might infringe their human rights.

Indeed, the whole piece is like a lazy copy-and-paste job from the Sunday Telegraph. As dreadful as Jan Moir's article was, Littlejohn churns out the same fact-free intolerant drivel twice a week. When will we get such a backlash against him?

He states:

Surely if joint ownership of a cat has to be taken into consideration, his application was bereft of all other merit.

And likewise, if the cat was 'immaterial' - as it was - then the case wasn't bereft of all other merit. And then there is no story. The Mail itself included the fact there were many other details, but Littlejohn conveniently ignores that.

But it's worth noting a comment left in response to this blog's take on the story from Barry O'Leary, the lawyer who represented the Bolivian man in the case. Here is what he has written:

Dear Tabloid Watch,

Thank you for your comments. You have made me feel sane in a day when insanity has ruled.

I am the lawyer quoted in this article. I was contacted by the Sunday Telegraph last week who had found this case on the Immigration Tribunal website. I explained clearly that the cat was irrelevant and, learning from experience, followed up with written comments as to why the case was won.

The Home Office conceded this case - they were not 'aghast', they accepted they had not applied their own policy and the cat was immaterial. As you have shown, the Telegraph begrudgingly explained this in the article but added a completely misleading headline. Of course, it was then picked up by all and reportedly completely inaccurately.

The sad fact is that it is now on the BNP website and people will believe it.

Where do I go from here? I agreed to an interview with a national radio station to try to get the message out but they lost interest when I explained the facts. I called Damian Green's office. they will 'send me a letter'.

The Telegraph were unfair but accurate on my quotes. Other sites have made up quotes.

I have been here many times as I have being doing immigration law for a long time but still do not have the answer to how to deal with this. Let it die a natural death? What do others suggest?

Once again, thank you reading what I said fully. I was starting to wonder if I had said something completely different.

Barry O'Leary

It is impossible not to be sympathetic that when he tells the media the cat was immaterial, he finds every article that follows focusing on it. And that now includes Littlejohn's.

Now that it has done the rounds it is probably too late to undo the damage. And we have seen how difficult it is to get any joy from the Press Complaints Commission. Perhaps it would be worth contacting them anyway. It might be possible to get a clarification from Littlejohn, although it will be hard work.

The cat was immaterial, the papers all say it was central. On that basis, some of the online articles may get removed and if Mr O'Leary can get the papers to mark their archives it may be able to stop the story being repeated in the future.

Unfortunately, for the BNP, Stormfront and other racist website/forums where this story has appeared, it is now accepted as 'fact'.

And that is why the papers should think far more carefully about the way the present such stories. Starting with someone that might seem obvious but clearly isn't when there is another agenda: is this true?

1 comment:

  1. Worth using a #pcc hashtag on Twitter everytime we mention them, perhaps, to drive the point of how toothless they are, and pointing out other equally bad examples of 'journalism'.


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