Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Mail clarifies green tax 'suggestion'

Another day, another clarification from the Daily Mail. This time, it's about 'green taxes':

Articles on June 9 reported comments from Dr Benny Peiser, director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, which suggested that ‘green stealth taxes’ are adding 15 to 20 per cent to energy bills.

According to Ofgem, the correct figure for environmental costs in domestic bills is currently no more than 9 per cent. We are happy to clarify this.

Only 'suggested'? Here's how the Mail reported this claim on 9 June:

It says very clearly in the sub-heading that a '£200 stealth charge is slipped on to your gas and electricity bill'.

The front page story was written by David Derbyshire and repeated the claims made by Peiser in an opinion piece which the Mail gave the headline:

Here's Peiser's exact words:

so-called green stealth taxes are already adding 15-20 per cent to the average domestic power bill and even more to business users.

There was an accompanying editorial from the Mail which said:

Yet the scandal is that these secret extras which add 15 to 20 per cent aren’t even itemised on our gas and electricity bills.

The following day, Derbyshire repeated Peiser's claim of 15-20% on a £1,000 bill in another article.

And on 15 June, an article by Lauren Thompson explained how the 'Mail revealed last week' that experts ('such as Peiser') said green taxes added £200 to domestic bills.

As yet, the clarification has not been added to any of these articles online, but as Mail editor Paul Dacre has made clear burying corrections is a 'myth', that surely will happen...

But then, as Dacre said that the claim newspapers bury corrections is:

one of the great myths of our time

you might have thought today's Mail would run this clarification on the front page, where the original claim was made.

It didn't.

The fact-checking website Full Fact looked at Peiser's figures on the day they were reported by the Mail (and others) and cast doubt on their accuracy then. Why didn't the Mail also query his claims?


  1. The word "suggested" is being so mis-used that it will get a new definition in the dictionary soon.

  2. The Mail no doubt thinks this butt-covering is sufficient since it says it merely 'reported' the claims of an alleged expert. Of course most tabloid media outlets don't distinguish well-enough - if at all - between what is fact and what is conjectural opinion.

    It could also be argued they don't really know how to properly report anything in the first place.

  3. I would like to suggest that all corrections in papers should be the same size and on the same page as the original error, if this means a paragraph is 72pt on page 2, I have no issues.

  4. Another correction Dr Benny Peiser is not an expert on climate nor energy. He's a social anthropologist specialising in sport. Climate BS in the media frequently cites his qualification without saying what it is. It is nothing to do with climate or energy. What next? A massage therapist to comment on the Euro Crisis? A professor of medieval English literature to comment on the Large Hadron Collider?


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