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Sunday 10 March 2013

Mail Online Fails To Check Mail Online

Sometimes it is wise to think carefully before taking on trust information that looks too good to be true, and especially without checking your own back catalogue. A story has appeared today in the Express, which has stumbled – purely by accident, you understand – on an apparently shocking example of child abuse by those working at the hated BBC, including Jimmy Savile.

Dirty Des’ finest have recounted the story of Leisha Brookes from Southend, who has been hauled up for not having a TV licence – her fourth such offence in seven years – and explained to the court that her reason for not paying is that Savile and several other men working at the Corporation had abused her many years ago. This had left her seriously traumatised.

In subsequent years, she claimed that her children had been taken into care, she had attempted suicide, that she has given evidence to the Police’s Operation Yewtree investigation, and that she is suing both the Savile estate and the BBC. So Mail Online, being equally keen on any potential wrongdoing by the hated Beeb, has lifted the story in search of more hit bait.

All of what Ms Brookes has said may be true: I do not dispute any of her statements. Nor do I attempt to trivialise child abuse, whoever the perpetrators may be. But this is not the only information in the public domain about her, and Mail Online would have known this, had they taken time out to search, er, Mail Online, and a story run about the English Defence League (EDL) in 2010.

Special Investigation: English Defence League and the hooligans spreading hate on the High Street” thundered the headline. Some EDL members, it told, were women, “such as 42-year-old Leisha Brookes ... Brookes, who has tattoos and works in ‘security and promotions’, lives in an ex-council block in Southend”. The woman in the Express story also lives in Southend.

So, as Private Eye might have put it, perhaps the two are related? Here, a Searchlight investigation proves helpful, as it carries a photo of her. There are many more images available, too: these appear to confirm that it is indeed the same person. Once again, though, it has to be stressed that membership of the EDL does not mean those involved could not have been abused as children.

But, given that Mail Online had already investigated Ms Brookes – their reporter even went to her Southend home, but she wasn’t in – the question has to be asked as to why they were so eager to lift the Express story, having previously been more than a little sniffy about her. Or maybe consistency does not matter at Mail Online, so long as the hit counter keeps spinning.

Either way, I suspect we will hear more of Leisha Brookes before long.

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