Back in September 2010, the Daily Mail’s tedious and unfunny churnalist Richard Littlejohn was called out for telling a whopper that was blatant, even by his own miserably low standards. What followed showed that the now discredited PCC was totally unfit for purpose: Littlejohn got his arse wiped, and nobody even thought about apologising. So it’s no surprise that today he pulled the same one again.
Calais, Guv? It's full of foreigners, innit?!?
Dicky Windbag was unhappy about the story of a soldier returning to the UK from a tour of duty: “Lance Corporal Craig Baker and his family have been refused a council house after he returned home to Bracknell following a tour of duty in Afghanistan”. This was unforgiveable: “Especially as any Afghan climbing off the back of a lorry in Dover goes automatically to the top of the housing list”.
An asylum seeker cannot, by definition, go on to a housing list (or, another Littlejohn favourite, claim benefits). Blogger Primly Stable complained to the PCC, as this was a blatant lie. Their response? “The article had been clearly presented as a comment piece ... readers would be aware that the columnist was not accurately reflecting the government’s policy on the housing of immigrants, but that he was making an amplified statement for rhetorical effect”. It was OK for Littlejohn to lie.
So, to demonstrate that (a) he’s been given the seal of approval, and can tell as many whoppers as he likes, and (b) the originality of Dicky Windbag’s columns is as shallow as his reservoir of facts, he’s recycled the same totally untrue statement today, because, well, the PCC says he can.
“I read a story this week about a man who had become trapped in a bin in Horsham, West Sussex, and had to be freed by firemen using an electric saw ... There was no explanation as to how he got in. Did he fall or was he pushed? The other possibility is that he had recently arrived from Calais and was living in a wheelie bin temporarily until his name came up on the housing list”. Oh, how they didn’t laugh!
All of which tells you that (a) the Mail doesn’t give a crap about factual accuracy, which many of us have known for some years, (b) whoever subbed the column wasn’t awake, and (c) the obedient hackery of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre credits its readers with the attention span of a small fish. And it doesn’t augur well for that super whizzo new press regulator.
They got away with it under the PCC, and if it got let through this time, Dacre and his doggies are clearly expecting to get away with it under IPSO. Indeed, in the same column, Littlejohn muses “I get morning sickness when I wake up to the sound of another patronising politician lying through his teeth on the wireless. Call Clegg on LBC has been known to induce projectile vomiting”.
You wouldn’t know Dicky Boy, you’re in Florida. And you’re lying. Again.