As if to show that our free and fearless press talks well, but lies badly, and press non-regulator IPSO does not unadjacent to stuff all about it, the Super Soaraway Currant Bun has served up a pack of lies about Britain’s foreign aid spending, and just to add insult to injury, has declined to retract or apologise when faced with reality. Meanwhile, IPSO has not raised so much as a peep. And they’ve had six days to act.
The article screamed “Fury as £4billion of Britain’s foreign aid budget goes towards fixing POTHOLES abroad … Campaigners said the news 'beggars belief' while councils at home face a £14billion bill for repairing our own pothole-plagued roads”. A photo was very clearly captioned “The Government has spent nearly £4billion of foreign aid money on fixing potholes around the world”. And there was more in the same vein.
“Other spending included £700 million fund to provide transport, water and electricity on an island the size of Birmingham on Lake Victoria in East Africa. The project included building an ‘all-weather road’”. And then came the all too predictable protests.
“Motorist campaign group FairFuel UK said it ‘beggars belief’ that taxpayers are paying for roads to be fixed around the world … Tory MPs demanded ministers prioritise sorting out the chaos on Britain’s railways before spending any more on foreign transport networks”. Rent-A-Quote Philip Davies moaned “Surely the Government should be spending money on those before sloshing it around the world to boost the infrastructure in other countries”.
But there was a problem with the story - it wasn’t true. As the DFID has told, “DFID invested £3.9bn in 57 separate transport and infrastructure programmes that were operational during 2015 and 2016, although many of those projects will have started before this time. Not one of these programmes was aimed in any significant part at fixing potholes”. But what about that island in Lake Victoria?
“The Sun also claims that DFID’s other spending included a ‘£700m fund to provide transport, water and electricity on an island the size of Birmingham on Lake Victoria in East Africa. The project included building an all-weather road’ … This is false. The entire project, funded by a range of different organisations of which DFID was just one, has received $49m of investment, so around £37m”.
And it got worse. “DFID’s total contribution, both directly and through our contribution to the Private Infrastructure Development Group, was £8.7m”. So the Murdoch goons are the thick end of 100 times out on that spending. How about a correction, then?
You jest. The DFID talks of “DFID’s response to The Sun, which they did not publish at all online and only in part in the print version”. Indeed, the online version has no mention of the DFID reply, or indeed of the correct figures. So the Sun lied, and continues to lie. Moreover, publishing part of the DFID’s letter separate to the article, and with no kind of correction, just makes sure the paper gets away with it.
As for IPSO, it has said and done nothing. The Sun knows foreign aid is a way to rile up the readership. It should be extra careful to get its facts right. It doesn’t bother. So it spreads falsehood and misinformation. The conclusion? Don’t Buy The Sun.
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