Teaboys gonna Teaboy
So the quartet whose names have graced the Tel’s by-line - Ben Riley-Smith, Lucy Fisher, Bill Gardner and Joe Barnes - should hang their collected heads in shame. More shameful is that the story does not appear to acknowledge where they got their supposed information. Because if it did, it would show why the Tel should have got a second source.
The “punishment” claim came from Alex “Billy Liar” Wickham, formerly teaboy to the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines at the Guido Fawkes blog, now at Politico. In a series of Tweets yesterday, he claimed “Extraordinary letter from French PM Jean Castex to European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen obtained by POLITICO … France tells Brussels it must demonstrate that Britain has been damaged by leaving the EU”.
There was more. “The key line in the letter is where Castex explicitly admits the fishing row is about Brexit … He calls on the EU to cause ‘damage’ to Britain as a warning to other nations who might consider leaving in future … UK will seize on this as evidence of bad faith from France”. Others who saw the same letter reached a different conclusion.
Alexander Korff was one of them. “Dude, do you even speak French? It says: ‘it is vital to show clearly to the European public that respect for signed agreements [by UK] is not negotiable and there are consequences for those who leave the EU and renege [from their treaty obligations]’”. Hand Niesund had more on the nuances of the original French.
He pointed out that “‘dommages’ would be better translated as ‘drawbacks' rather than ‘damages’. Had he meant ‘damages’ he would have said ‘dégâts’. Nor does he imply the EU should go out of their way to damage the UK, but that there are consequences to leaving”. Hence Jessica Simor concluding “You need to delete this. It is not true”.
Moreover, those who think Wickham - who the Murdoch Times has reported to be a Godparent to Wilfred Johnson, the son of our alleged Prime Minister and his third wife - is making an honest mistake should consider his propensity to talk well, but lie badly. Especially his whoppers about Andy Burnham’s Manchester Mayoral campaign (HERE).
Meanwhile, the Wickham mistranslation has been incorporated into a piece for Politico, whose credibility may be significantly eroded as a result. Here, he claims “France has privately requested that the European Union steps up its opposition to British actions in the ongoing fishing row, telling Brussels it should demonstrate to the public that it is more damaging to leave the EU than to stay”. Downsides are still damaging.
Mutjaba Rahman, a columnist for Politico Europe, concluded “The spin and translation imposed on the French PM’s letter is misleading … Castex is not calling for Britain to be ‘damaged by Brexit’”. That’s the same Politico that employs Alex Wickham. Which may put the latter into one of those Very Difficult Positions. Sooner rather than later.
And the Telegraph needs to salvage its credibility sharpish. If it can find any to salvage.
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 becoming a Patron on Patreon at