Thursday, 27 May 2010

Failing to tell both sides of the story

The tabloid coverage of the 'ban' on England football shirts became even more ridiculous when the Mail published Driver orders toddler off bus for wearing 'offensive' England football shirt. It never even sounded likely.

It was a mainly a cut-and-paste job from this local newspaper article.

Based solely on the say-so of the mother, it was claimed the driver, who had a Polish or Eastern European or dodgy-foreign-sounding accent, was offended by the two-year-old wearing one of those 'banned' England football shirts. It's political correctness gone mad, etc.

The following day, the Star and the Mirror repeated this tale (along with countless other websites and forums), based solely on the word of the Mail.

But by then the local paper, The Sentinel had returned to the story. They reported that First Bus had received thirty complaints - mainly, it seems, from people who had read about the incident.

One witness who had claimed to have been there said it happened on Monday. But that was the day the Sentinel published the story. The mother said the incident occurred the previous Thursday...

Paul de Santis, from First, told the paper:

"As time has gone we have reached the conclusion that the incident did not happen.

"We have not been able to find any credible witnesses. And we have not been able to confirm the identity of the driver at the centre of the allegation.

"We belive it to be highly unlikely that it happened. If this is the case that is extremely concerning to us. It's not only damaged our reputation, but could have put our staff in danger through potential reprisals."

And First issued an offical statement:

We have carried out a full investigation and can't find any evidence to substantiate this claim. No driver fitting the description given was working on any routes in this area at that time. Our buses were busy around the time yet no one else has been in touch with us about this alleged incident.

We expect the highest level of professionalism from our drivers and such an act would not be tolerated. However, in this instance it now appears that no such incident took place.

Here's the thing: this statement has been in the public domain for two days.

And yet neither the Mail, Star or Mirror have deemed it necessary to inform their readers' about it.

So either they don't want to correct their earlier story, and look like they may have got something wrong, or they are happy to let the myth of banned England shirts rumble on because it suits their PC-gone-mad, Britain-under-attack-from-foreigners agenda.

Or more likely, both.

(More over at Enemies of Reason)


  1. In addition, it should be noted that the person making the complaint here shares her name, age, geographical location and a number of other details with a woman who has a long string of convictions for premeditated and manipulative offences of dishonesty.

    At the risk of cutting myself shaving with Occam's Razor, when faced with the two possibilities, namely (1) they are the same person, and (2) they are different people, my forensic training leads me to conclude that the chances of there being two different people in Stoke-on-Trent bearing the same name and age, one of whom is not reported as having children in 2004 and one of whom has two children under three in 2010, both of whom appear to have a sister with the same name, and both of whom appear to have a tendency towards exploitative lying, are somewhat remote.

    Of course, a reputable newspaper would have checked this out long before printing allegations based on uncorroborated information, so it must just be a bizarre coincidence, eh?

  2. I have just tried to post the statement from First Group onto the comments section of the Mail story. I am not holding my breath that they will actually publish it.

  3. Voice of reason - you are right to point out the questionable credentials of a Sam Fardon. It does seem to be the same Sam Fardon who has a string of convictions for defrauding people of their money:

    Y'dont't think she was just making this nonsense up because she saw an opportunity for a quick buck, do you? To sort out her financial troubles? Because the above stories would suggest she's not too bothered who she harms, as long as she gets her cash.

    Nah, we should definitely trust her. She's just a good, honest and misunderstood patriot!

  4. I'm glad you covered this. There's nothing that boils my p*ss more than made up stories that the right wing press blindly put out to their apologists, safe in the knowledge that it will be lapped up and reinforce every prejudice going.

    I really wish something could be done about it.

  5. Article now not taking comments. I wonder why that might be....?

  6. People. It doesn't matter whether the DM publish a retraction or not. Firstly it would appear on page 94 in very small print. Secondly because people who did actually find it and read it would not believe it. Because they will continue to believe what they want even when faced with evidence to the contrary.


Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.

Comments are moderated - generally to filter out spam and comments wishing death on people - but other messages will be approved as quickly as possible.