It was the story that strained the reputation of Times hack Andrew Norfolk beyond the limits of its credibility. It suckered the Mail and Sun into publishing the most grotesque smears and downright untruths. The claim that a white Christian girl had been placed against her wishes with Muslim foster parents who didn’t speak English, at the behest of Tower Hamlets Council, reverberated around the press for several days.
Andrew Norfolk - thoroughly discredited
That story, though, reverberates no more. Because it was substantially untrue, and most certainly misleading. as Zelo Street pointed out at the time (see HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE), Norfolk’s reputation, like that of Christopher Booker before him, was bust as soon as the facts emerged. Moreover, it was not Norfolk’s only mis-step.
John Witherow - an editor with questions to answer
We know this as experienced journalists Brian Cathcart and Paddy French, with Julian Petley, have laid bare Norfolk’s failings in a report titled “UNMASKED - Andrew Norfolk, the Times Newspaper and Anti-Muslim Reporting - A Case To Answer” (read it HERE).
Cathcart’s Tweeting out of points from the report shows how damning the content is. “One case we examine in unprecedented detail is Norfolk's infamous ‘Christian child forced into Muslim foster care’ story. The picture he painted of a white Christian girl ill-treated and indoctrinated by Muslim foster carers was NOT TRUE … [Norfolk’s] articles alleging that a human rights charity, Just Yorkshire, published a report so scathing it prompted death threats against an MP. This claim was also NOT TRUE”. There was more.
“Norfolk’s allegation that a council encouraged a convicted Pakistani rapist to seek visiting rights to his white victim’s child. Again, simply NOT TRUE … Our detailed analysis led us to conclude that Norfolk repeatedly wrote stories portraying Muslims as threatening when the facts showed otherwise. This was at a time when hate crimes against Muslims were rising … Our report finds patterns of behaviour by Norfolk we judged to be journalistically unethical. E.G. he repeatedly omitted from reports, or buried near the bottom, key information to which responsible journalists would have given prominence”. And more.
“We found that quotations – the lifeblood of journalism – were taken out of context and used in ways that we believe ethical journalists would not accept. All this was passed as fit for publication by editors of @thetimes – and then promoted and defended … We found that @thetimes, even when error and failure were obvious, refused to correct meaningfully or to apologise for errors which had seriously misled its readers”. And it got worse.
“@IpsoNews, the Times’s complaints body, conspicuously failed to uphold standards or call @thetimes to account for publishing stories that were plain wrong. It did the least it could … How did a multiple journalism award winner like Norfolk get so much wrong? Why did a national newspaper like @thetimes let it happen? Why have news media been so quiet about this scandal in their midst?” So what is being done about it?
“Printed copies of our report have gone out to every MP and to hundreds of working peers, leading journalists and opinion formers. We call on @thetimes to instigate a credible independent investigation into what has gone wrong”. And there’s the rub.
IPSO - absent yet again
Here on Zelo Street, any enjoyment at seeing criticism of Norfolk and the Times proved correct is tempered by the fact that the Murdoch press has a far larger megaphone - and is to this day utterly unrepentant in the face of overwhelming evidence of its bad journalism.
The failings are as before, as are the bodies concerned: IPSO, the sham press non-regulator; Norfolk, the hack trading on his reputation; John Witherow, his editor; Rebekah Brooks, News UK’s CEO; and Rupert Murdoch, whose media outlets here in the UK, and in the USA and Australia, have majored consistently in attacking Muslims.
The more this appallingly bad behaviour is uncovered, the more it is swept under the carpet and the more our free and fearless press turns a blind eye to it. That’s not good enough. And, given what we know about Witherow’s back catalogue, it’s another good reason why Part 2 of the Leveson Inquiry should happen - and happen now.
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