Tuesday 28 February 2012

Mail removes scaremongering article about volcano

At the start of the year, the Mail turned its attention to the Laacher See volcano in Germany and asked, in a scaremongering headline:


As ever when a question is asked in a headline, the answer appears to be no.

Erik Klemetti, an assistant professor of Geosciences at Denison University, wrote a response for Wired in which he described the Mail's story as 'tremendously terrible'. He pointed out: 

The article in the Daily Mail is about as substance free as you can produce – it starts off with the usual doom claptrap: “a sleeping super-volcano in Germany is showing worrying signs of waking up.” Now, you have to look carefully for what their supposed signs are – all two of them.

1. "This monster erupts every 10 to 12,000 years and last went off 12,900 years ago, so it could blow at any time.” No source for this recurrence interval and we all know that using poorly constrained recurrence intervals like we have at Laacher See is no way to say a volcano is (ugh) “due for an eruption”.

2. “Volcanologists believe that the Laacher See volcano is still active as carbon dioxide is bubbling up to the lake’s surface, which indicates that the magma chamber below is ‘degassing’.” Which, of course, Laacher See has been doing for centuries. There are stories of monks dying from asphyxiation due to carbon dioxide hundreds of years ago. I personally saw carbon dioxide bubbling when I was at the Laacher See 5 years ago.

He added:

This is the volcanic equivalent of the Daily Mail going out and saying “Massive hurricane to hit London?” because they looked out the window and saw a cloud. Irresponsible, lazy journalism at its finest.

Sarah Simpson, writing for Discovery News, said the Mail's:

sensational assertion is based on nothing more than a sparse smattering of old facts that sound tantalizingly apocalyptic when you string them together. Read the full story, and you'll find no mention of new science, no expert named...

The Daily Mail story, in stark contrast, is a catchy idea whipped out of thin air.

But Erik says we should be prepared for more such articles as it is 'clearly pandering to the 2012 Apocalypse crowd'.

A complaint was made to the PCC about the Mail's article:

The complainant considered the assertion that the volcano was about to erupt had not been supported by sufficient evidence or expert opinions.

And a few days ago, the PCC published the result:

The complaint was resolved when the PCC negotiated the removal of the article.

So the Mail has simply deleted the article, without providing any explanation.

Solicitor challenges Mail over false story

In July 2010, the Mail and Sun apologised and paid damages to Parameswaran Subramanyam, a Tamil who they accused of secretly eating hamburgers while claiming to be on hunger strike.

The Leveson Inquiry has now published a witness statement from Magnus Boyd, the solicitor who represented Subramanyam. He focuses on the Daily Mail's article and says:

The Article, which in its original hard copy form also carried a photograph of Scotland Yard, stated that the source of the allegation was the police and contained the following words:

"Scotland Yard surveillance teams using specialist monitoring equipment had watched in disbelief as he tucked into clandestine deliveries.

"A police insider said: 'In view of the overtime bill this has got to be the most expensive Bie Mac ever. ’

"Scotland Yard made no official comment but senior sources said police decided against dragging the bogus hunger striker out of his tent for fear it would start a riot.

"’One source said: 'This was such a sensitive operation that it was felt officers could inflame the situation if we brought the strike and demonstration to a premature end.."

Boyd then explains what happens when they looked into the story:

Following publication of the Article, Michelle Riondel, the solicitor then instructed by Mr Subramanyam, spoke to the Metropolitan Police Superintendent who was in charge of the operation who confirmed that:

- there was no police surveillance team assigned to watch him;

- there was no use of 'specialist monitoring equipment’;

- the police had no 'evidence’ of the allegations made in the Article;

- he was not aware of any police decision 'against dragging the bogus hunger striker out of his tent’ or 'that it was felt officers could inflame the situation if [they] brought the hunger strike and demonstration to a premature end’.

Boyd concludes:

Neither I nor my client know how the statements in the Article quoted above at paragraph 2 found their way into the Article. As a matter of logic there are only two possibilities which are either that:

i. a police source simply made up these allegations and communicated them to The Daily Mail; or

ii. The Daily Mail made up the police sources.

If i) happened then The Daily Mail must have been so confident in its police source so as not to consider it necessary to request the footage in order to verify it. Had The Daily Mail done so, it would have become clear that none existed.

If ii) happened (and the newspaper invented police sources for an article being published to the nation at large both in hard copy and on-line) then that would seem to indicate that the newspaper was sufficiently confident in the strength of its relationship with the police not to fear repercussions from the police for falsely presenting them as the source and/or that the newspaper thought that Mr Subramanyam would not have the means and wherewithal to sue.

(Hat-tip to David Allen Green)

Sunday 26 February 2012

Mail on Sunday apologises over Marchioness story

Here's an extract from a Mail on Sunday article from last year:

Walid was non-committal, but the following week he invited me to his Chelsea flat where he revealed that Antonio's mother, Boneca, had flown to Spain to meet de la Rosa, who had given her £1million.

'Why?' I asked, astonished. He shrugged. 'Perhaps it was owed to Antonio.' 'But he's still missing. There's no body, no death certificate, no will.' Even if Antonio had been owed the amount, no normal company would hand over such a sum without asking for a death certificate.

And here's an extract from the Mail on Sunday's 'Corrections and clarifications' column today:

On August 21, 2011, an article entitled ‘£1bn mystery of the Marchioness’ claimed that, while her son Antonio was still missing and in the immediate aftermath of the accident, Mrs Maria ‘Boneca’ Vasconcellos had flown to Spain to receive a substantial payment from her son’s former employer.

We accept that this is not true and apologise for any distress caused to Mrs Vasconcellos who sadly lost two sons in the tragic accident.

The original article has been amended accordingly, but the apology has not been added to the end.

Saturday 25 February 2012

PCC rules on complaints about HPV vaccine stories

On 14 November 2011, several newspapers reported on the case of Lucy Hinks.

The Mail ran this headline:

The Telegraph (Cervical cancer jab left girl, 13, in 'waking coma'), Sun (Cervical cancer jab puts girl, 13, in 'waking coma') and Metro (Cervical cancer jab leaves girl aged 13 in a ‘waking coma’) all ran similar headlines.

The articles were based on a report in a local paper, the News and Star, although that ran under the headline 'The Cumbrian girl who sleeps 23 hours a day'.

Several people were concerned at the way these headlines and articles definitely linked the jab with the girl's condition. Sense about Science said the 'articles are based purely on the parents' tentative suggestion' yet the headlines made this sound like proven fact. And there were at least three complaints (one by blogger JDC325, one by Heather Doran, and one by Josh, a reader of this blog) made to the PCC.

Josh told the PCC:

the fact that this unfortunate girl developed ME after the jab is not proof that the jab caused the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME), nor is it even, on its own, any sort of evidence at all that the jab caused ME.

The Telegraph reacted soon after the complaint was made, adding 'claim parents' to the end of the headline to make it clear it was an allegation from the family. The PCC cleared the Telegraph, ruling:

While the Commission acknowledged that the headline itself did not clearly denote the assertion as representing a claim, the sub-headline clearly stated that “the parents of a 13-year-old girl believe the cervical cancer jab has left their daughter in what they describe as a “waking coma”. Readers would understand from the outset that the article reflected allegations made by the parents rather than established fact...

There was no breach of Clause 1 (i) or Clause 1 (iii). That said, the Commission welcomed the newspaper’s decision to further clarify the headline by altering it to make clear that it reflected the parents’ claim.

However, the PCC ruled against the Mail, Metro and Sun:

These all presented as fact that the jab was responsible for the subsequent illness. However, this was not the case. The claims in fact reflected the belief of Lucy Hinks’ parents that the vaccine had led to their daughter’s illness. There could be no dispute that the newspapers were fully entitled to report the concerns raised by the Hinks; however, Clause 1 required them to present the concerns as conjecture clearly distinguished from fact. It was the view of the Commission that the headlines had failed to comply with this requirement and as a result that they had the potential to mislead readers into understanding that the connection had been established. This constituted a breach of Clause 1 (i).

The Sun had already acted and, like the Telegraph, added 'claim parents' to the end of the headline. This came as something of a surprise to Josh, as the original response from the Sun - written by Executive Editor Fergus Shanahan - was very firm:

The Sun's story is a factual and balanced account of the way a young girl has fallen seriously ill after having the cervical cancer jab. We make no editorial claim one way or the other for the safety of the injection, although we are at pains to point out that - in the words of the Cumbrian Health Authority - it has "a strong safety record." We also note that girls have been immunised this way since 2008 and quote the manufacturers as saying the jab is safe.

Our headline accurately reflects precisely what has happened: the girl had a cervical cancer jab and then immediately fell into a state of extreme lethargy described as a "waking coma". Ergo, the jab put her into the waking coma. She wasn't in a coma before the jab but she was after the jab. That is a statement of fact, not opinion.

Josh dismissed this as 'laughable' - how could Shanahan say the Sun made 'no editorial claim one way or the other' yet a few sentences later state 'the jab put her into the waking coma'? And 'immediately' too, although the Mail's article states that it was two months after the final jab that Lucy began 'sleeping almost round-the-clock'.

So the Sun offered to change its headline and note the change with this line added to the end of the article:

The headline has been amended to make clear it reflects only an allegation that Ms Hink's illness was linked to the jab.

The PCC's ruling on the Mail said:

The Daily Mail had altered the headline by placing the assertion that the ‘waking coma’ had occurred after a “severe reaction to cervical cancer jab” in quotation marks. It was common practice to identify a claim or allegation in a headline by placing it in quotation marks. The newspaper had also offered to publish the following statement: The headline has been amended to make clear it reflects only an allegation that Ms Hinks’ illness was linked to the jab. In the Commission’s view the wording offered, in addition to the amendment already made, would amount to sufficient compliance with Clause 1 (ii). It was appropriate for the newspaper to delay publication of the clarification pending possible agreement of its terms, but in order to avoid a breach of Clause 1(ii) – and subject to the complainant raising any objection – it should now be published without further delay.

And for the Metro:

Unlike the other publications, the Metro had carried the headline under complaint in its print edition in addition to on its website. It had offered to alter the online headline – placing the assertion in quotation marks to identify it as a claim – and publish the following wording as a footnote to the article: The headline has been amended to make clear it reflects only an allegation that Ms Hinks’ illness was linked to the jab. It had also offered to publish the following wording in the print edition of the newspaper: In an article published on 15 November, we reported concerns raised by Lucy Hinks’ parents that the cervical cancer jab had caused their daughter’s chronic fatigue syndrome. We are happy to make clear that it has not been established that the jab causes CFS. 

Again, the Commission considered that the offers made by the newspaper in regard to online and print clarification would amount to sufficient compliance with Clause 1 (ii). It was appropriate for the newspaper to delay publication of the clarifications pending possible agreement of its terms, but in order to avoid a breach of Clause 1(ii) – and subject to the complainant raising any objection – it should now be published without further delay.

The Mail and Metro have now added the explanation to the end of their articles.

In summing up, the PCC made this point:

The Commission emphasised the importance that newspapers take adequate care when reporting on health issues to present the situation in a correct and clear light. This is due, in part, to the potential effects misleading information may have on readers’ decisions in regard to their health. It was clear in these cases that the newspapers had roundly failed to take the required care with their headlines not to mislead readers. While it was on balance satisfied the steps offered or taken would sufficiently remedy the breaches of the Code in these cases, the Commission expected that greater care would be taken when presenting articles on health issues in the future.

Josh responded to that, telling this blog:

These are words to placate, not to resolve a problem. They have simply echoed my sentiment, without outlining any kind of action that might cause any kind of change in the press' behaviour.

My feeling is that this sums up just how useless the PCC is. Thousands of people read the original articles, a handful will read the corrections, and of those, it's unlikely that a single dry line can undo the impression formed by the sensational original stories.

The PCC's main role is not to regulate the press, but just to exist, enabling people to say "but look, we have a press complaints commission!" and therefore by its mere existence, it sustains the necessary charade that the press is accountable and responsive to criticism. It provides a sinkhole down which criticism can be funnelled away, an endless bureaucratic maze seemingly designed to frustrate and bore and exhaust complainants into submission. 

JDC365 was also dissatisfied as he did not feel his complaint had been considered at all:

I’m not sure what went on during the three months in which I waited to hear the verdict, as the PCC negotiated with the newspapers and the lead complainant. This meant that I did not know what progress (if any) had been made. More importantly, it meant that I was unable to provide any input. I couldn’t give an opinion on any defence or any remedy offered by the Mail, and I could not complain that only the Daily Mail’s headline was to be amended – with the article remaining untouched.

Tuesday 21 February 2012

Ice cream

MailOnline, 10 February 2012. Woman eats ice cream:

MailOnline, 17 February 2012. Woman eats ice cream:

Friday 17 February 2012

BBC accuses Mail of inaccuracy and misrepresenting the facts

On Wednesday, the Mail published its latest attack on the BBC:

Sam Greenhill's article begins:

The BBC spent £4million laying off staff – only for nearly half of them to continue working as normal.

The money was paid to around 70 workers as compensation because their posts were being relocated north to Salford.
But after accepting the ‘redundancy’ money – £57,000 each, on average – about 17 of them simply carried on in the same jobs, it is understood.

He goes on to quote the TaxPayers' Alliance who are always on hand to express some 'outrage':

‘The BBC could have saved millions by not making these unnecessary payouts.'

But the BBC has issued a statement in response to the Mail's story:

Today's Daily Mail claims that the BBC has spent £4m laying off staff in BBC Studios and Post Production (S&PP) – only for half of them to continue working as normal.

This article is inaccurate and misrepresents the facts, which are these.

Seventy roles were closed in BBC Studios and Post Production as a direct result of the move of the BBC Sport and BBC Children’s departments to Salford.

All staff whose posts closed were eligible for compromise agreements, which were legally agreed and negotiated with the unions. They are not “unnecessary payouts” or “cosy deals”.

No staff received any money until their posts had closed and they had left the BBC.

Seventeen staff had their leave date – and therefore their payment - delayed up until BBC Sport and BBC Children's production was fully up and running in Salford. It is clear that 17 out of 70 roles is not half, as The Mail suggested.

In addition, there was no re-hiring by the BBC. The contracts for Sport and Children’s were taken on by private companies based in Manchester. The BBC is not aware of any staff from S&PP having been employed by these companies in Salford, but if they were, it would be good news for the individual that they have been able to find a new job outside the BBC.

Finally, it is worth restating that BBC Studios and Post Production is a commercial company and this process was funded entirely from commercial revenue and not the Licence Fee.

(Hat-tip to Jem Stone)

Sorry we said you threatened to hang an opponent

This apology to Rashid Ghannouchi was published yesterday on MailOnline:

An earlier version of the blog post "The moderate fanatics of the Islamist winter" referred to allegations made by another blogger that Rashid Ghannouchi, the leader of the Tunisian political party An Nahda, had threatened to hang political opponents Raja bin Salama and Lafif Lakhdar. The allegation was untrue, it was removed when we were informed that was the case and we apologise for any distress caused to Mr Ghannouchi.

The blog post in question was written by Melanie Phillips and the apology has been added to the end of it.

But Phillips was not the only one to make this claim about Ghannouchi - it also appeared in The Economist and they also apologised:

In our briefing last week on women and the Arab awakening (“Now is the time”), we said that Rachid Ghannouchi, the leader of Tunisia’s Nahda party, opposes the country’s liberal code of individual rights, the Code of Personal Status, and its prohibition of polygamy. We also said that he has threatened to hang a prominent Tunisian feminist, Raja bin Salama, in Basij Square in Tunis, because she has called for the country’s new laws to be based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We accept that neither of these statements is true: Mr Ghannouchi has expressly said that he accepts the Code of Personal Status; and he never threatened to hang Ms bin Salama. We apologise to him unreservedly.

This appeared on 22 October 2011.

Phillips' blog post repeating the claim was published five days later.

Tuesday 14 February 2012

'A production error'

From today's corrections column in the Daily Mail:

An article on Saturday about children dialling up pornography on mobile phones suggested that Ofcom could not explain why filters to block adult material on BlackBerrys would not be available for at least six months.

We are happy to clarify that Ofcom’s response, that the ‘project is highly technical and software filters need to be developed from scratch’ was omitted from the article due to a production error.

Monday 13 February 2012

Don't jump to conclusions, says Sun

In today's Sun, Trevor Kavanagh - the paper's associate editor - writes about the Sun journalists who have been arrested over the last few weeks:

It is important that we do not jump to conclusions.

Nobody has been charged with any offence, still less tried or convicted. 


(Huge hat-tip to Primly Stable)

Here come the...choppers?

On 9 February, the Mail's Katie Silver wrote about a UK Airprox Board report about an incident near Stornaway airport:

The article begins:

As he prepared for a routine landing at a tiny island airport, a warning that there were a couple of tornadoes on the way was possibly the last thing he expected.

But moments later, the pilot of the domestic passenger service to Stornoway was forced to take evasive action as two Tornado GR4 warplanes screamed past.

Then, as the confused airman came around for another landing attempt, he spotted a pair of Black Hawk helicopters that air traffic control had not even seen.

There's even a 'How it happened' illustration, showing stage-by-stage what each aircraft did - including those 'Black Hawk helicopters':

But it seems the Mail is a little confused.

The report actually refers to 'two black Hawk ac' (page 16) which is not the same as 'Blackhawk helicopters'. It refers to this RAF Hawk training aircraft ('black Hawk', as in a Hawk that has been painted black).

Moreover, in sourcing a photo of the helicopters from the Alamy agency, the Mail has used a picture of two Blackhawks from the 'Japan Ground Self Defence Force'.

The BBC's report on the incident correctly refers to the Hawks as 'jets'.

(Hat-tip to James for pointing me to this blogpost on this story.)

Sorry we said you punched a taxi

An apology to Wayne Rooney which appeared in yesterday's Sunday Mirror (spotted by Regret the Error):

On October 16 we published an article reporting claims that Wayne Rooney had damaged a taxi after it arrived late to collect him and his party for a concert.

We're happy to make clear that Wayne did not punch the vehicle which was not late and we offer him our apologies.


An 'exclusive' from today's Sun:

Thursday 9 February 2012

Savaged to death by a dog...or natural causes?

This morning, both the Sun and MailOnline covered the death of Cassandra Smith in Nuneaton:

The Sun's article, written by Andrew Parker, goes into some detail:

A brave mum was savaged to death by the family dog in front of her five children as she tried to stop it attacking them.

Petite Cassandra Smith, 49, leapt in to fight off the frenzied Alsatian when it went for daughters Charlotte, 28, and Annette, 26.

But the snarling animal flew at her and sank its jaws into her face and throat.

Her five terrified kids — including Shelley, 25, Kayleigh, 21, and Jayson, 30 — looked on screaming in horror.

The first comment on the Sun's article seems to have been posted online at 7:49pm yesterday and the story was in today's paper. The MailOnline version went up this morning, suggesting it was 'borrowed' from the Sun.

Yet five hours before that comment, Warwickshire Police issued a statement saying such 'rumours' were 'unfounded':

She had told a family member that she was feeling unwell the night before her body was found.

At the current time there is no evidence to support rumours, circulating in the local community, that she died from injuries inflicted by the family dog.

A post mortem has taken place today and has found:

that she died from natural causes as a result of a pre-existing medical condition.

The examination established that injuries to the woman’s face were caused after she had died.

The woman was found in her bedroom by an adult member of her family on Tuesday morning. The woman had stated she had been feeling unwell the previous evening.

A juvenile dog, believed to be a bull mastiff, staffie cross, aged approximately five months old, which was found in the room with the woman, has been destroyed following consultation with the family.

An elderly German Shepherd dog, that was in another room in the house, was not involved in the incident.

A report into the woman’s death will now be prepared for the Coroner and an inquest will be held at a later date.

The Sun and MailOnline articles have now vanished.

(Hat-tip to Darryl Murphy)

Monday 6 February 2012

Dacre, the Mail and cancer

In his evidence to the Leveson Inquiry today, Mail editor Paul Dacre said it was a 'caricature' that his paper wrote lots of stories about things that can give you cancer.

This claim came as he was being asked about the Mail story 'Cancer danger from that night-time trip to the toilet', which was dimissed as an 'eye-catching fabrication' by the University of Leicester, whose research was being reported.

Inevitably, there was a 'x causes cancer' story in the Mail today, based on soon-to-be-aired Government ads on drinking:

It begins:

Just two glasses of wine or two strong pints of beer a day can treble the risk of mouth cancer, ministers warn.

The news that two pints of beer could treble the risk of mouth cancer may come as a surprise to some Mail readers who saw this story two days ago:

This article included the claim that:

We have long been told that a glass of red wine is good for our health, but now an increasing number of clinical studies show that beer can have even greater benefits...

‘It needn’t be an expensive beer – just don’t drink so much you cancel out any of the benefits,’ adds Dr Philliskirk. ‘This means no more than a pint a day for a woman and between one and two pints, depending on the beer’s strength, for a man.’

Dr Philliskirk is, incidentally, from the Institute of Brewing and Distillery:

a members organisation dedicated to the education and training needs of brewers & distillers and those in related industries.

He might just be considered to be someone with an interest in promoting the benefits of alcohol.

But there it is: two pints of beer a day might be good for you or it might increase your risk of mouth cancer, depending on whether you read the Mail on the 4th or the 6th.

Just like last year, indeed, when a glass or two of red wine was reported by the Mail (and Express) to both prevent and increase the risk of breast cancer.

Similarly, the Mail reported that drinking wine with an evening meal was a 'deadly risk' that increases the risk of cancer (29 August 2011) and a good way to be 'free of the ills of oldage', including cancer (7 September 2011).

Dacre told the Inquiry:

I categorically dispute that we adopt an irresponsible stance on medical stories.

'The exact outfit she had on the day before'

As Mail editor Paul Dacre was telling the Leveson Inquiry that he was 'proud' of MailOnline, the website was publishing another of its blistering showbiz exclusives:

The article is typical MailOnline fare - get some photos of a celebrity, look at their clothes and the people they are with, describe what the photos show and try to make a 'story' out of it.

In this case, MailOnline hack Holly Thomas says Amber Heard was spotted wearing the 'exact outfit she had on the day before'. But the photos used in the article to prove this point suggest this may not be true. Look, for example, at the neckline:

But what of the claim that the pictures show that Heard has 'moved on' after a 'rumoured' split from her girlfriend and has been spotted with a 'mystery woman'?

Well, Thomas should have looked at this MailOnline article from 25 January 2012 in which Amber was out (in the same dress!) with what appears to be the same 'mystery woman' - who is identifed as...her sister, Whitney.

UPDATE: Within one hour of posting a link to the above on Twitter, the original article was removed from MailOnline (thanks Mike).

Sorry we said you sent 'bizarre 9/11 text'

An apology published by the Sun on 4 February 2012:

Graham Westley and Preston North End FC

An article on January 30 incorrectly stated that Graham Westley, Manager of Preston North End FC, had sent a bizarre late night text telling players to prepare for a 9/11 style terror attack and encouraging reaction to it.

We accept that Mr Westley sent no such text to players or otherwise. We are happy to set the record straight and apologise to Mr Westley and Preston North End FC.

(Hat-tip to @shoutsatcows)

Thursday 2 February 2012

'Much to the amusement of those watching'

A MailOnline story posted yesterday evening claimed:

The article by Simon Tomlinson - which amounts to: person with funny name gets photo shown on TV -  then publishes the picture:

This blog was contacted by an eagle-eyed reader who pointed out that the font doesn't quite look like the one the BBC News Channel uses.

A comment on the MailOnline article makes the same point, and also questions why they would include the 'LIVE' caption while showing photographs from viewers.

Further doubts were raised by other comments. One said:

Strange, I live 12 miles from Lutterworth and we haven't seen so much as a flake of snow all day. Maybe that should read FAKE instead of flake!

Another said:

I live 6 miles away and drove through lutterworth and there was no snow today!

And a third said:

Well I live in Lutterworth and we haven't seen as much as a snowflake during this recent cold snap! Someone was clearly yanking the BBC's leg!!

A comment left this morning sheds more light:

This is a photoshopped picture and a fake name, my friend did it. Can't believe it's made the news with people thinking it's real! Search Phlex Media :)

And, indeed, searching for Phlex Media finds this Facebook page where Jody Kirton is currently telling his followers how his 'photoshopped photo made the news'. And on Twitter:

He explains how he photoshopped the picture, put it on a USB, looked at it on his TV and then took the picture. He has posted a copy of his original photoshopped picture as proof.

He has now also posted another photo on his Facebook. It has the caption: 'Daily Mail 0, Jody 1'.

And this incident comes so soon after this...

(Hat-tip to Martin S)

UPDATE: Craig Silverman from Poynter has interviewed Jody.  

UPDATE (6 February): The article has now been deleted from the Mail's website. 

Wednesday 1 February 2012

Do as we say, not as we do

From the Guardian's Media Monkey on 26 January:

"How Beeb downplayed its use of private eyes", thundered the Daily Mail on Thursday, as it accused BBC News of virtually ignoring evidence from director general Mark Thompson to the Leveson inquiry that the corporation had spent £310,000 on private investigators in six years. 

Strangely, when the Mail covered the inquiry on 5 December – when Lord Justice Leveson heard how the names of journalists had been found at private investigator Steve Whittamore's Hampshire home – it described the "veritable treasure trove" of material, yet failed to mention that it topped the list of title's using Whittamore's services, with 952 requests, involving 58 of its journalists. 

And in the Mail's Leveson coverage on 12 January, towards the end of a page 8 story "How Hugh Grant got his facts wrong, by the Mail's legal chief" were a few paragraphs about Mail on Sunday editor Peter Wright's use of Whittamore. So no downplaying the use of private eyes there, then.