A lie can travel…

A Lie Can Travel Halfway Around the World While the Truth Is Putting On Its Shoes

You will have noticed, if an avid reader of this blog, that I wasn’t impressed by the Daily Telegraph error-strewn article about Hen Harriers earlier in the week (see here, here and here).

And it was error-strewn. But anyone can make a mistake can’t they? I know I make plenty.

But the errors in this article were through simply repeating the views of the Sir Ian Botham-fronted YFTB. Now, YFTB is known not to be the best friend of the RSPB, and its press release was not exactly RSPB-friendly I’m sure.

So, if you are a proper journalist and you get sent some stuff slagging off the RSPB based on a ‘report’ that doesn’t yet exist you might think that you should check your facts. The Daily Telegraph did not check its facts with either Natural England or the RSPB. The Daily Telegraph published inaccurate information and did not take case to ensure that it didn’t do so, which it could have done by 1) talking to Natural England, 2) talking to the RSPB or 3) waiting for the report to come out and then reading it!

If you think the same as I do then you should think of making a complaint to IPSO – I just have done.

My complaint was based on the above and the very helpful template provided by Hugh Webster as a comment on a blog earlier this week. Thank you Hugh – I adapted yours – thanks very much for leading the way. Here is Hugh’s comment reproduced:


I have made the following complaint on the IPSO website:

The Telegraph/Javier Espinoza began their recent article as follows: “The RSPB is expected to come under fire in a government report for failing to increase the population of rare birds of prey despite receiving £2 million in funding. A report by Natural England into the status of hen harriers is set to reveal that RSPB have failed to nurture six nests it was responsible for at Bowland and Geltsdale. The remaining six successful nests – which were on or next to grouse moors – had no RSPB involvement and performed well, the report is expected to say.”

This is a deliberately misleading introduction that fails to distinguish between the conjecture of a lobbying group and checked facts, instead simply regurgitating an erroneous press release from lobbying group You Forgot The Birds with either no attempt made to check the facts of this libellous accusation or a wilful ignoring of the truth. In point of fact Natural England have produced no such report. Furthermore the truth is the exact opposite to what the article claims, with Natural England saying the Telegraph article was “really based on a completely false premise. There is no report and we wouldn’t criticise the RSPB in any shape or form because they are an important part of the attempt to conserve this rare and important species.”

Still further contrary to what the Telegraph article claims, the RSPB was involved in half (3/6) of the successful hen harrier nests this year, not none as the Telegraph – again without checking its facts – implies by writing “The remaining six successful nests – which were on or next to grouse moors – had no RSPB involvement and performed well, the report is expected to say.” Even further Natural England has refuted the claim that all the successful nests were on or next to grouse moors by stating that in fact none of the successful nests were on grouse moors, while all those that failed were adjacent to grouse moors. See https://markavery.info/2015/08/05/worse-depending-side/#comments and http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/aug/05/is-rspb-blame-loss-englands-rare-hen-harriers?CMP=twt_environment*gdneco

This Telegraph article represents a thinly veiled advertisement for the grouse shooting industry full of deliberately misleading information and inaccuracies. I would expect a full retraction from the Telegraph in case any of its readers are not aware of the truth of this issue.

I encourage others to do the same and all are welcome to adapt the text of my complaint in chasing this up here https://www.ipso.co.uk/oxbxApps/app/complaint1.html?new=true



7 Replies to “A lie can travel…”

  1. I have done the same, Mark thanks to the information and links provided here and a hefty shove in the form of Hugh’s excellent example. I also tweeted the fact I’d done so, something which was picked up by several well known birders and to my knowledge has resulted in at least two more complaints. So not only complain, but also tweet the fact so they enough complaints to take the issue seriously!

  2. It’s also revealing that the Telegraph chose not to reference Natural England’s 2008 Hen Harrier report (Yes! A real actual factual report) which concludes that “…the critically low breeding numbers and patchy distribution of the Hen Harrier in England is a result of persecution…especially on areas managed for red grouse or with game rearing interests.” No mention of the RSPB there either.

  3. Torygraph Forgot The Editors’ Code of Practice anyone? https://www.ipso.co.uk/IPSO/cop.html – see in particular “highest professional standards” and …

    i) The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information, including pictures.

    ii) A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion once recognised must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and – where appropriate – an apology published…

    iii) The Press, whilst free to be partisan, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact.

  4. We are up against an industry with form though. The PR industry (on behalf of the oligarchs) are no doubt proud of obfuscating the facts about the dangers of smoking – delaying real action for 50 years, more recently doing the same with climate change and only this year persuading enough of the electorate to vote for a Tory government. I hope it’s not another 50 years before driven groups shooting is banned.

  5. I submitted a complaint to IPSO but I am not certain it went through as, when I pressed ‘next’ after the second page of the complaint form, it went to a blank page 1. I have e-mailed IPSO to check if my complaint was registered but have not received a response. Not very happy about this. Has anyone else had problems?

    1. Jonathan – I made my complaint yesterday and got an email acknowledgement today. I had no problems of the sort you did. Good luck

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