Tuesday 8 June 2010

Boy definitely not thrown off bus for wearing England shirt

Further details have emerged from Staffordshire about the case of the boy who, it was claimed, was thrown off a bus for wearing an England shirt by an Eastern European driver.

Or wasn't, as was fairly obvious from the very start to all but some stupid believe-any-anti-English-fairy-story tabloids:

A mother who claimed her two-year-old was ordered off a bus for wearing an England shirt has been branded a liar...

First Bus commercial director Paul De Santis said: "We have interviewed every single driver in the vicinity at the time and have not been able to find anyone who knows anything about the incident or who matches the description given to us.

"The complainant also stated she went to the office in Newcastle later that day and reported the incident.

"We can't find anyone who knows of any report and we did not have a lady on duty that day like the complainant said."

Miss Fardon was also asked by the bus company to provide details of witnesses.

But the firm says it has been unable to contact two of them, while the third gave information which conflicted with what Miss Fardon said.

Mr De Santis added: "I have come to the conclusion that, particularly from the point there was no Eastern European driving the services on the day in question, that the incident did not happen. Nothing we have subsequently done in terms of contacting drivers and speaking to witnesses has changed that."

And if all that wasn't enough, and just to make absolutely clear this story was complete rubbish from the start:

Miss Fardon has now withdrawn her complaint.

And the result:

Mr De Santis added: "There have been one or two unsavoury incidents with our members of staff over the incident. We are very concerned that this has caused that and our drivers are not happy their reputation has been damaged. We now want to draw a line under this and get on with doing our job."

And that is what happens when the media helps to spread lies.

It's interesting that several comments both on this blog picked up that the mother was called Sam Fardon and that someone with the same name, of the same age, from the same area had been in trouble with the police (for stealing) in 2004.

Yet so-called journalists such as Fay Schlesinger, who wrote up the story for the Mail, didn't bother doing any checking on either her or her story.

Back on 27 May, this blog argued that the Mail, Mirror and Star - who wrote about Fardon's original claims - should have followed-up with the results of First's investigation.

They didn't.

Now the story has been completely debunked, and the woman has withdrawn her complaint, it would be inexcusable for them to avoid telling their readers that fact.

(Hat-tip to Adrian)


  1. "Now the story has been completely debunked, and the woman has withdrawn her complaint, it would be inexcusable for them to avoid telling their readers that fact."

    ...then why do I get the feeling that this will never happen? Fardon got the quick buck she was after and the Mail got to print another misleading article about immigrants and PC. Everyone's a winner. Oh, wait a minute...

  2. To quote this week's Private Eye:-

    "The Star, Mirror and Mail by contrast, breathed not a word about it (that it had been proved to be false). Uncorrected versions are still available on their websites - as well as those of far-right nasties Stormfront and the National Front."

  3. Can anyone lay out a coherent objection to the idea of placing a statutory duty on newspapers to correct such mistakes. Such a duty already resides on television. Though listening to a profile of Mary Whitehouse, I learn that it was only her campaigning which led to the creation of the BSC. I think the newspaper industry needs a Mary Whitehouse to battle against it.

  4. I would fully support a statutory duty being placed on papers to print corrections, but I would want the correction to be given the same prominence as the original story.

    The main drawback I would see with such a system is the time factor. Unless a story is corrected extremely quickly is will have been repeated in some many other papers and websites that it takes on a life of it's own.

  5. Crikey, I was with the argument for forcing the newspapers to fully rebute these stories when proved false - right up until Mary Whitehouse came into it.

    Seriously though - at what point does stuff like this become 'inceitment to racial hatred' or similar. Printing vague stories where the facts are dubbious and completly unverified is one thing - but at what point can it be clearly (legally) be seen as inciting hatred?

  6. I remember a case around 13 years ago when some children ran back from the park complaining of a black man who'd molested them. The news came out a few days later that they'd made up the story to avoid getting in trouble for being late home. The news that the story was made up had obviously escaped my DM-reading colleagues on the computer course I was on. Because a day or so later, someone asked 'did they catch that black b*****d who assaulted those white children' (so no racist element there, then). I said what my newspaper had said, that the children had made up the story. 'I wonder if they really did, or are the authorities hushing it up to avoid a race riot...' she said.
    I walked away to avoid having to punch her.

  7. Links to the online version of the Mail story were rapidly spread around Facebook by a BNP member, using it to incite ethnic hatred very effectively. The effect of these lies can be extremely far-reaching, and an unwelcome weapon in the armoury of the far-right, who use them to recruit the credulous to their way of thinking. Thank you for looking into this, though I doubt there will be an equivalent viral response to the correct version of events.


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