With stories of migrants crossing the English Channel in inflatable boats disappearing from the news - replaced by Brexit votes and harassment of MPs - what better way to put the genre front and centre of the news agenda once more than to splash the claim that so-called “fixers” are smuggling hundreds of them to Britain from France. And lo, there it is in the Murdoch Sun today. But there is a problem with the story: it’s Fake News.
The adage that something which looks too good to be true probably is too good to be true has been ignored by Tony Gallagher in his efforts to rile up the readership against all those ghastly brown people who may also be Scary Musims™. Caution has been thrown to the wind as readers are told “I’ve smuggled 300 migrants into UK”.
So what’s the spiel? “A PEOPLE smuggler has boasted to The Sun of getting 300 migrants across the Channel … The Afghan fixer named Anam, 28, told our team that he helps set up speedboat crossings to the UK for £6,000 per person … He said in Calais, France: ‘If police catch you, they never send you back. It’s secure to go, no danger.’”
This is, by the most miraculous coincidence, exactly what the Sun wants to tell its readers, and what many of them want to hear. Then comes the first howler. “Smugglers in Britain are sneaking migrants across the Channel with payments sent to a backstreet curry house”. So where might this curry house be situated?
You’ll love this - it’s somewhere where someone bragging for money might have heard of. “We called at the Southall restaurant but were told the owner was in Pakistan … The manager denied knowing Anam or his associate when we showed their pictures. He said: ‘This is fake. We have nothing to do with smuggling. No one has ever come in here offering to leave money. It’s not true.’” This is the sole corroboration for the story.
The location shown on this map ...
The claims made by the alleged “fixer” become more outlandish: “He also told how an Englishwoman recently charged two migrants £14,000 each to travel in a wooden box in her Range Rover’s converted back seat … Anam said he pays East European truck drivers £3,000 a migrant”. He’s telling the Sun what it wants to hear. And it’s not true.
The Murdoch goons can’t even get their locations straight. The map accompanying the story claims that people are picked up from a location to the north-east of Calais. But the photo of the location shows a P&O ferry approaching Calais. They approach from the west. Anyone who has travelled regularly between Dover and Calais knows the route.
... is the other side of Calais to the photo claiming to be of the same spot
Ferries leave Dover heading straight across the Channel. As they approach the French coast, after rounding a marker buoy they turn to port and follow the coast, turning to starboard to gain the harbour at Calais. That photo was taken to the west of Calais.
As to the claim “He said for £6,000 they can arrange for a speedboat to be sent to a pick-up point 60 miles from Calais”, this is total crap. That point would be off the map completely, and not a practical location for a pickup. This story is “Exclusive” only because no other newspaper is shameless enough to make up the claims.
60 miles from Calais? Er, no
At this point, some Zelo Street regulars may recall the equally fake Sun claim that one of its reporters had travelled 2,000 miles across Europe without having to show his passport. This was a pack of lies: the reporter, Emile Ghessen, could not have made the journey he described without his passport being checked, and it transpired that, far from travelling across Europe by train, he flew out of Croatia direct to Paris.
The difference this time is that today’s Fake News enjoyed the contribution of one Paul Samrai, who is effectively the Sun’s replacement for Fake Sheikh Mazher Mahmood. As one of Samrai’s former colleagues has told, “Everyone in the industry knows Paul Samrai comes with a health warning”. That is certainly true for today’s migrant splash.
This morning’s Sun front page lead is based entirely on the boasts of one man. No evidence has been provided to back up even one of his claims. The only chance to corroborate the story, visiting the curry house in Southall, resulted in a forthright denial of any connection, and denouncement of the claim as fake.
Sun readers have once again been conned. So has Tory MP Charlie Elphicke. There was no story, so in the tradition established by the deeply unpleasant Kelvin McFilth, the paper just made it up. The Sun remains a disgrace to journalism. Don’t buy the Sun.
Enjoy your visit to Zelo Street? You can help this truly independent blog carry on talking truth to power, while retaining its sense of humour, by adding to its Just Giving page at