Dear Paul Dacre

I watched your video on the Daily Mail website in which you celebrated the conviction of David Norris and Gary Dobson and in which you expected the Daily Mail to be praised for securing the conviction thanks to your vainglorious headline back in 1997 that accused 5 men of murder. I listened at your anger that 5 men (boys at the time) could murder a black boy solely because of the colour of his skin, and that when the 5 men left court they swore, and this uncouth behaviour made you even more angry and determined to pursue them.

I listened as you stated that this was a glorious day for British newspapers and the power of journalism; it seemed as though, as ever, you seriously think that the British press and the Daily Mail in general is a force for social good.

But I can’t help but be disgusted by your video and the blatant, bare-faced and shameless hypocrisy of you lecturing people on racism and racial justice when the newspaper you have edited since 1992 is  institutionally racist.

Your Stephen Lawrence headline, your Stephen Lawrence campaign for justice changes nothing.

The Daily Mail is part of a British press that is at worst responsible for creating the racial hatred and fear that exists in so many poorly-educated people in Britain over the last 30 years; or at best can only claim that it hasn’t created any racists, it is just responding to what racist consumers want by printing hateful, dishonest smears against other races. Either way is inexcusable.

Your newspaper is racist and it will still be racist tomorrow and the next day and the day after that. If you had any shame you would remove that video and instead spend your time addressing your role as editor in creating the racial outlook of your newspaper and your newsroom before seeing fit to lecture anyone else on racial hatred.

There are no words powerful enough to describe just what a despicable hypocrite you are.

That’s just not cricket

Another year, another immigrant being allowed to stay in the UK for the flimsiest of reasons. Last year we had the person allowed to stay because he went to the gym and before that the famous Bolivian-student-allowed-to-stay-because-they-owned-a-cat. Of course, the important thing about both of those cases is that those were not the reasons at all. The media – bless them – had just taken what they thought to be the most absurd reason for remaining (even, if in the case of the cat, whether it wasn’t even used as an argument) from each case and reported it as if that was the sole reason for the judge’s verdict.

Which brings us to today’s Mail Online headline: ‘Judge gives Bangladeshi student permission to stay in the UK… because he loves cricket’. Which actually means:

In what is being seen by lawyers as a test case, a trainee accountant from Bangladesh who came to Britain to study has been granted permission to remain in the country after successfully claiming that he had made friends and played cricket on Sundays.

While the Home Office turned down Abdullah Munawar’s initial bid to stay on in the UK after graduating, the courts overturned the decision on appeal and ruled that he could continue to enjoy a “private life” in this country under Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights.

You can argue all you like about the ‘right to a private life’ enshrined under Article 8 of the ECHR, but let’s have those arguments like adults, rather than just screaming that X has been allowed to stay for one reason alone when they clearly have not. The right to a private life does kind of imply that every student on a 3-year VISA will be able to argue their case to a judge to be allowed to remain – after all, you would hope that most people would have established a private life over the course of living in the UK for 3 years. What this perhaps does is highlight how the UK currently expects to be paid handsomely by foreign students whilst they attend its universities, only to then remove them as soon as their education is over without question.

Again, newspapers are free to have this debate but it would be refreshing if for once they could just report the truth accurately and avoid dishonest headlines. The Daily Mail was recently bemoaning the apathy of young non-voters, yet at the same time this is the level of political debate that the newspaper engages in. There is clear scope for a proper debate over the right to a private life and what this ruling means for future cases. However, all people will be taking away from this article is the false impression that playing cricket is a surefire way that ‘they’ can stay in the country – just as if ‘they’ owned a cat.

Speaking of which, at least the Mail Online article didn’t dare mention the cat, unlike the Telegraph:

The case of the cricketing student now takes its place in the annals of unusual immigration decisions – alongside the “Bolivian cat man”, first exposed in these pages two years ago, who sparked a Cabinet rift at the 2011 Conservative conference.

Indeed, the cricketing student myth will now be regularly quoted alongside ‘Bolivian cat man’ by people unaware that they’ve just been lied to by their newspaper, again. Considering the absolute falsity of the ‘Bolivian cat man’ story it staggers me that the Telegraph – the article was written by David Barrett – has again proudly stood by it.

The new press regulator needs the statutory power to fine or flog any journalist who repeats a myth that has been publicly and convincingly shown to be false. Otherwise we just end up with millions of individual Wintervals damaging public understanding of how the world works.

Daily Mail and baby names

October 2010 and the Daily Mail happily distorted statistics on baby names given to boys in the UK to make it look as if ‘Mohammed’ was the most popular. The Daily Mail decided to add together the 12 variations of the name in order to claim it was now the most popular boy’s name to create a bit of anti-Muslim scaremongering. They also did the same the year before. Today the Mail website has taken the top 100 boys names in 2011 from an online source and funnily enough Mohammed – in any variation of spelling – does not appear in the list at all.

Make a note of this for when the Daily Mail trots out the ‘Mohammed is the most popular boy’s name’ story next year.

Daily Mail back on the subject of prison vans

The Daily Mail are fond of attacking prisons and associated services as being overly luxurious and expensive even when what they are attacking fundamentally undermines the newspaper’s free market ideology. On the one hand the Daily Mail takes great pain to label the NHS an inefficient lumbering bureaucracy that can only be saved by immediate and complete privatisation, on the other they keep criticising the partial privatisation of services within the justice sector. A while back they distorted a story about how a prison van was driven 96 miles to transport a prisoner 60 yards to court – a story which David Cameron picked up and used to beat human rights with – and today they have another complaint: ‘Hope they’re not watching the Great Escape! Prison vans to get flatscreen TVs and DVD players ‘to keep anxious prisoners calm”.

The article claims that:

security firm G4S revealed it is installing televisions and DVDs in some vehicles.

The flatscreens are being introduced to reduce prisoners’ anxiety as they are transported between jails or to court appearances.

Straight away the Daily Mail is admitting it is only ‘some vehicles’ that are having the televisions fitted. In fact, the Daily Mail could be specific right from the beginning of the article as they do know exactly how many are going to be fitted:

A spokesman for G4S today said the scheme will only take place in Scotland and that only two out of 146 vans will be fitted with the technology.

Two vans, in Scotland, will be used to trial the technology. The reason for the trial is not just to simply ‘reduce prisoners’ anxiety’ but is rather targeted at:

Only prisoners with a particular risk of self-harming during journeys that last up to eight hours will be transported in them…

Mr Denny added: ‘It is feasible that a young person might need to travel from Central Scotland to the Highlands. That’s at least an eight-hour round trip.’

Obviously the Daily Mail then brings in a quote from someone concerned with the cost to the taxpayer, but again, this is just the free market in action. G4S are a private company, if they want to fit their vans with spa baths and mini nightclubs then it is no longer the concern of the taxpayer once the contract has been awarded. Surely this is just the kind of innovation that the Daily Mail believes private companies can bring to the (largely) publicly run NHS – the kind of ‘outside-the-box’ thinking that they should be applauding? After all, G4S hopes that:

the cost of fitting the technology will eventually save money spent repairing vehicle interiors damaged by violent inmates.

Isn’t this what private companies are supposed to be good at – and the public sector bad at – saving money by doing things differently?

It’s incredibly frustrating that the Daily Mail doesn’t even have the decency to be consistent with who or what it is attacking from one minute to the next. If the Daily Mail is in favour of a completely liberalised free market capitalism which expressly requires the services of the state to be privatised – which editorially, it clearly is – then it would be nice if the newspaper could at least stop complaining about the consequences of getting exactly what it wanted in the first place.

Daily Mail outraged at outrage

Have a look at the third paragraph of the Daily Mail’s article on Jeremy Clarkson’s comments about strikers:

In a day of extraordinary overreaction to what was clearly meant as a joke, one union official threatened to report him to police, while another said his comments were worthy of Colonel Gaddafi.

This is from the newspaper that has regularly given front page leads to its campaign against wheelie bins and just this week published Melanie Phillips’ article in which she claimed that two disturbing examples of criminal behaviour:

suggest a total absence of empathy for another person, which is the basic requirement of morality and, in turn, of a civilised society. They illustrate a brutalisation of humanity.

She continues:

Evidence of this sickening tendency has been accumulating for years. While violent crime has always been with us, elements of sadism, cruelty or total indifference to anyone else’s distress are becoming frighteningly commonplace.

And what does Phillips propose as the only solution? Well, the clue is in the title: ‘A sneering burglar, a callous mugging and why only faith can fill Britain’s moral vacuum’. Yes, we don’t read the bible enough:

it has long seemed obvious that this is intimately related to the breakdown of religious belief. It is the morality embedded in the Bible that expressly requires us to put the interests of others first.

Irrespective of what your opinion of Clarkson’s comments is, let’s just take a few seconds to giggle over the Daily Mail – who went to front page war over Ross and Brand’s answerphone ‘joke’ that they branded ‘Sachgate’ and demanded that they both be sacked – talking about a sense of humour failure or how ‘you can’t even make a joke these days without silly outrage’.

My thoughts on Clarkson’s comments are simple: make them on TV and you can expect to get lots of complaints and outrage; make them in a newspaper and you’d be handsomely rewarded as a ‘star’ columnist. If anything, Clarkson has just provided a perfect example of the kind of jokey hyperbole he gets away with in print without a whisper of outrage being deemed as the work of Satan just because he said it on TV.

There is a very interesting double standard in this country when it comes to what is acceptable on TV compared to what is acceptable in print. Just imagine – for example – a TV news broadcast flicking from a serious news story to an upskirt shot of some female celeb getting out of a taxi or a video report about what Suri Cruise has worn during the week or how ‘she looks all grown up’. It, of course, would probably crash the phone network as outraged masses call in their disgust and complaints.

Yet this is what we get in the tabloids. It seems to me that British Society finds the medium of TV inherently more offensive than the medium of print.

One minute, you’re relaxing on holiday…

The next, someone contacts you to tell you that you’re in the Daily Mail and you soon realise that whilst you were out of the country someone had grabbed your life, twisted out of all recognition and published it to the world.

Welcome to the story of Hayley Quinn who this happened to in October.

Hayley Quinn describes herself as a ‘dating coach and writer’ and a ‘specialist in the arts of conversation, persuasion and seduction’. The Daily Mail described her as: ‘the matchmaking expert who cannot hold down a boyfriend’. Just one slight problem with that description: Hayley was at the time of publication on holiday with her boyfriend of 10 months. Hayley has been kind enough to go through the entire Daily Mail article and point out just what parts of it were inaccurate or simply an invention of the writer – the byline belongs to one Lauren Paxman, you are all welcome to join me in a slow handclap for her once you get to the end of this blog post.

All the parts highlighted in bold are my emphasis and are tackled by Hayley below the chunks of the Mail article. Bear in mind that Hayley never gave any form of interview to the Daily Mail so the constant ‘she said’ stuff the article uses are either made up or taken from a Now magazine article which you can read in full here – links given at the bottom of the article. If you read the Now magazine article – which must presumably be the source of the Daily Mail article – you can see just how much invention, exaggeration and distortion is used by the Daily Mail to ‘sex-up’ the article and to create a completely different Hayley Quinn than you meet in the Now magazine article.


It’s an age old problem that even formed the basis of Jane Austen’s novel, Emma, the better you are at advising others on dating, the harder it often is to find yourself a partner.

But Hayley Quinn, who has helped teach 100,000 men how to seduce women cannot find a boyfriend for a reason that would have scandalised high society Georgians: she is addicted to casual flings.

The 100,000 figure is inaccurate: more like 10,000. Internet forums have thought that I purposely exaggerated this figure: in fact the paper just made it up.

As for the ‘addicted to casual flings’ accusation: I’m not a saint but I am not a sex addict – and ironically this article came out when I was on holiday with my boyfriend of 10 months in Malta.

The frustrated 24-year-old earns £40,000-per-year as a professional dating expert who teaches shy guys to bag the woman of their dreams.

Made up figure: I also didn’t want any salary released to the public as I didn’t want to appear to be in a better/ worse position than my competitors.

But despite going on more than 200 dates in the past year herself – often as many as seven in seven days – she cannot hold onto a man.

Made up. I have maybe been on 30 but I’ve been monogamous with my boyfriend for some time.

Hayley says she has become so good at seducing men she is ‘addicted’ to it and finds it impossible to settle down.

The pretty brunette, who lives in central London, describes herself as ‘a more extreme Carrie Bradshaw character from Sex and the City’.

She said: ‘My bigger problem is that there’s one client I just can’t crack – me‘.

A fantastic piece of creative writing.

‘Despite what my job may imply of me, I’m a hopeless romantic at heart, and can’t seem to find the right guy for me’.

‘I would love to be whisked off my feet and proposed to but, despite falling head over heels numerous times – often with clients – it just hasn’t happened’.

This implies that I’ve had romantic affairs with my clients, this is untrue and detrimental to my business.

‘I can’t follow my own advice and seem to be able to find love for anyone and everyone but me.

‘I’ve kept a diary of all my dates, work and personal, so I can keep track, and call it my ‘Sexcapades‘.’

This implies I go on dates for work = escorting. Nope I teach other guys how to date women in a theoretical, seminar based fashion.

I haven’t named it this [‘sexcapades’] (in fact working title is ‘first date to wedding bells’ as the diaries mainly describe the progression of my relationship with my boyfriend. I may have used the word ‘sexcapades’ historically but this is anachronistic.

She added: ‘The problem is I’ve become so good at the dating game that I’m addicted to it.

‘Now, if I spot someone I find attractive I challenge myself to seduce him into bed. And I never lose.

‘I simply can’t get enough of the thrill of the chase. I’m addicted to dating and each fling only fuels my appetite for the next.

‘It’s meant that, for now, I’ve had to postpone all thoughts of my dream wedding to Mr Right.’

I don’t think I’ve ever challenged myself to seduce someone into bed. I traditionally have dated mostly women and have only ever slept with 6 men… which is hardly a record breaking amount. Two of those were ‘flings’ four ‘long term relationships’… not salacious stuff. The truth is my luck with guys is a bit rubbish – or it has been – but not because I have an addiction.

‘The irony isn’t lost on me – I train men how to be successful with women, but can’t find the right guy myself!’

Hayley, who grew up in Devon, became a serial dater after the DJ boyfriend she moved to London with aged 18 cheated on her with two women – at the same time.

Cornwall actually.

She said: ‘I was very much a one man woman and wanted nothing more than to spend the rest of my life with him.

‘So when I discovered he had cheated on me with not one, but two women while on holiday in Las Vegas, the revelation shook my outlook on life and love to the core.

John B (my ex) is a great friend of mine and I would never have wanted something so scathing printed about him.

‘I felt like I was out of my depth and I hated the way he’d made me feel so helpless and unable to influence my own happiness.

‘My life had been turned upside down by the man who told me he loved me and had then had a threesome behind my back, and so in a bid to take back control I went on a dating spree.’

This happened when I was 18, we were then together in a monogamous relationship until I was 23, then I began to date again after we’d broken up. His behaviour did not trigger a ‘dating spree’.

Hayley has also been given regular dating columns in men’s magazines and on dating sites, reaching out to more than 100,000 men.

Earning a healthy £40,000 salary from all of her dating exploits, she has turned her passion into a career.

She said: ‘I’ve been so successful I frequently receive messages of thanks and gifts from men I’ve helped find romance.

Many of the guys who come to me are just happy they get to sleep with someone!’

‘But as for me, I’m still single I’m continuing my search for Mr Right.’

Repetition of inaccurate figures.

I’ve received one book from a client- no other presents. This again feels ‘escort-y’.

This REALLY implies that there’s more to what I teach than conversation skills.

I’m not single anymore.


Hayley would like her version of events to travel as far and as wide as possible, so please share this on Twitter (you can find me: @uponnothing or Hayley: @hayleyquinn to RT). You can also visit her website to find out more about what she actually does.

For my part, let me just repeat one of the claims that the Daily Mail makes in this article: ‘Many of the guys who come to me are just happy they get to sleep with someone’. No matter how many times I read this I cannot take away any other message but: ‘Hayley’s service includes sleeping with all of the men who use it’.

The Leveson Inquiry into the culture, practice and ethics of the press must have our full support. We can’t go on accepting that this is just what newspapers do.

You can start the slow hand-clapping for Mail hack Lauren Paxman now.


Here are the two Now magazine pages hosted on my Mediafire account: Now Page 1, Now Page 2.

 

Steve Doughty: Dear black footballers…

Toughen up you big girls! Why are you whingeing about a bit of (alleged) racial abuse on the pitch? You do realise black players 20 years ago had it much worse 20 don’t you? As for this whole ‘kick racism out of football’ malarky it’s getting dead boring.

I paraphrase, but here are a few choice quotes from Steve Doughty today:

When we read about British footballers levelling complaints of racism against each other, it’s worth making the comparison with what passes as everyday behaviour in a nearby country we are often invited to admire.

Translated: let’s not take racism in British football seriously, because other countries are much worse.

the horrid and open abuse of the past is gone. When crowds pick on black players these days it is the exception, and the fact is quickly reported and condemned… Every club seems to be promoting a kick racism out of football campaign, beyond the point of boredom.

Translated: OK, so a couple of players claim to be have been racially abused, so what? Not like they get it all the time is it? Worse, even though racism isn’t that bad anymore the bloody clubs keep banging on about stopping racism all the bloody time. (Or, he might mean that football without racism is boring.)

I took my elderly mother to watch a game at Highbury for the last time before they knocked it down… In the second half Arsenal sent on an African forward called Kanu. Kanu could either be brilliant or spend all afternoon falling over the ball. On this occasion he kept falling over the ball. A youngish bloke sitting in front of us lost his temper after one particularly ludicrous pratfall and yelled, at the top of his voice, something about ‘you black b*****d’.

There was a terrible silence.

The bloke leaped up and wheeled round 180 degrees in the same movement, shoved his face straight in front of my mother’s, and said in firm and formal tones: ‘I’m terribly sorry about the racist comment.’

You could not imagine such a thing happening at a football match 30 years ago.

Hurrah, you see? Racists apologise politely to old ladies straight afterwords! Aren’t the blacks living in a dream world! This is wonderful progress:

Football reflects us all as it always did, and these days it’s both racist and not racist at the same time. Things may not be perfect but, at the end of the day, Gary, there are worse things to complain about.

Football, you see, reflects us all according to Steve Doughty which makes us all racist and not racist at the same time – by which he means we all complain about ‘black bastards’ but we do apologise straight afterwords if an old lady happens to be present.

I’m pretty sure Steve Doughty isn’t speaking for me here.

Anyway, he does make his message to black footballers clear right at the end – just in case they didn’t pick up on the vibes throughout the article:

So, Mr Evra and Mr Ferdinand, I know you feel insulted. But perhaps in this case you could just put up with it and get on with the game.

Another wonderful contribution to ‘Rightminds’ – Simon Heffer must be so proud.

Avoid deportation by joining a Gym – claims Daily Mail

According to the Daily Mail website today: ‘Failed asylum seeker who has dodged deportation for a decade told he can stay… because he goes to the GYM’.

What the judge actually said was:

‘He had integrated well within the Glasgow community, had a large network of friends, most of whom were Scottish, and socialised with those friends at the gymnasium, at five-a-side football, in coffee shops, at college, in the library and at their homes.’

The asylum seeker was appealing to Article 8 of the ECHR which allows a human being the right to remain in a country if they have established a private life. Going to the gym was one small part of this case, rather like owning a cat was one small part of another case back in 2009 that has been doing the rounds again lately thanks to Theresa May. Needless to say this article has already attracted over 500 comments, largely from utterly stupid people who cannot see how ludicrous the headline actually is.

Kelvin MacKenzie on Dale Farm

Last week Kelvin MacKenzie joked about reporting himself to the Press Complaints Commission for being ‘anti-gypsy‘ after he published his idea of a gypsy flag (a photo of some fly-tipping). This week he finds room for a joke about Dale Farm:

Forty travellers from Dale Farm arrive at the Pearly Gates in their caravans. St Peter goes to the gatehouse and phones up God, asking: ‘Can I let them in?’

God replies: ‘We are full, but tell them to choose among them which are the 12 most worthy and I will let them in.’ A minute later St Peter calls God again: ‘They’ve gone.’

‘What?’ says God, ‘all 40 of them?’

‘No, the Pearly Gates.’

He doesn’t joke about the PCC this week, but he does find room for a correction:

The number of days lost at Nottinghamshire County Council is 8.9 per person per year, not per quarter as I wrote last week. The correction was pointed out by the council’s media department, who were clearly busy at their desks.

What a wonderful place Rightminds is.