As if in a perfect storm, the Murdoch Sun – always on the look-out for anyone it can smear as a “scrounger”, as well as single mothers and anything EU related – has hit the jackpot: a Lithuanian single mum who is living on benefits, and who appears not to be fussed about it. And she’s going on holiday to Malaga. And she buys “designer clothes”. And we’re paying for it all.
Except that, when this supposed “exclusive” is subjected to a little factual analysis, we aren’t paying for all of it, and the “immigrant” in the story has been in the UK for the best part of eight years. We know this as Natalija Belova’s CV is available online (hat tip to @chunkymark via Rich Peppiatt). And from that CV, we then discover that Ms Belova is an actress.
Add to that the usual deliberate mistake in the Sun story, asserting that Ms Belova’s “Weekly Cash” includes the Housing Benefit that is paid directly to her landlord, and the mention that she has three credit cards, on which she is at present making a minimum monthly repayment, and her other skills – such as the six languages she speaks, four of them fluently – and the picture starts to change.
The taxpayer didn’t fund her trip to Spain (which, given the availability of low cost air travel and the time of the year she went, may not have been so expensive anyway), it didn’t fund her trip to Lithuania recently, and it isn’t funding her wardrobe. The only item of interest in the story is that working less than 16 hours a week but then moving to a full time job can mean the loss of benefits. Like we didn’t know.
But what Rupe’s downmarket troops have done – and, as Rich has said, it’s inconceivable they did not Google her name and find out who she was – is provide a free promo for a savvy actress to showcase herself, while getting paid to read from the Sun’s approved anti-EU and benefit bashing script. They didn’t just stumble over Natalija Belova by accident.
Meanwhile, the comments below the article, though at a particularly low level of linguistic competence and geo-political awareness, are as the Sun would want, baying, frothing, ranting, xenophobic, hateful, and above all indignant. But the story is a cheap and crude pre-prepared and scripted stitch-up, and the Murdoch press should come clean and explain themselves.
Not that they will, of course. Working for Rupert Murdoch means never having to say you’re sorry.