'This is outrageous!' said Tarquin Fitztory II

In my original '"This is outrageous!" said Tarquin Fitztory' post, I talked about how the tabloids mislead with the quotes they use in their stories, mainly by having contacted someone for a reaction to an event without giving them the full story. I missed one vital aspect of fibbing with quotes that I've spotted a couple of times recently.

As well as doing all the things I mentioned, the tabloids will often include a quote from someone and give the entirely false impression that the person they are quoting are reacting to the events in the article, when in fact they're talking about something else that happened another time. There have been good examples in a couple of my recent posts, which is handy because it means I don't have to look very far.

In 'They go together like Batman and Robin' I mentioned how the Mail had created a story around the number of people visiting the UK from Romania and Bulgaria and misleadingly twisted it to make it look as though the figures actually represented migrant workers. Part of the way it did that was to refer to a group of people - the vast majority of whom are tourists - as 'migrants'. The other way it creates a link between visitors and migrant workers is to include an extended quote from Grag Hands MP about how he thinks the cap on the number of workers from these countries should be scrapped. (There's also a quote form Damian Green, but remember the original post. Is he actually reacting to the real figures, or the misleading view of them the paper sets up in the article's opening sentences?)

The thing is, Greg Hands's quote isn't in response to the Mail's story, but part of a far more lengthy statement he made in a Westminster Hall debate on the same day. The article frames the quote as though it is in connection with the figures it is reporting, but since one of the questions the paper didn't quote was:
I have five specific questions for the Minister. First, how many Romanian and Bulgarian nationals have come to the UK to work since 1 January 2007, what proportion of the total number of visitors from those countries does that figure represent, and how many have already exited?
I sorely doubt that Greg Hands would accept the Mail's fudged tourist figures are genuine. His entire question has very little to do with anything this article says. Of course, the paper has cherry picked the bits of his statement that make it look as though the government's policy on restrictions of A2 migrants is a shambles - which it probably is - but it downplays a major part of the thrust of his arguments. Here are some quotes from the statement you'd be unlikely to see in the Mail or der Sturmer:
First, they are unfairly discriminatory: Romanians and Bulgarians are treated as second-class people, especially when compared with other European Union citizens, including those from recent accession countries.
I strongly favour equal access to the UK labour market for all citizens of EU countries—a view that is already on the record from a previous debate of mine in this Chamber on local authority funding and the impact of A8 immigration.
Generally, A8 immigration to my part of London has been very positive, with only a few negative side-effects, such as homelessness and handling people whose trip to the UK has not worked out.
Ironically, owing to the fact that there are probably so few A2 nationals compared with A8 nationals, most employers do not bother to check the regulations behind A2s.
The Home Secretary has called A8 immigration “a success”, and I for one agree with him.
You get the picture. The paper has cherrypicked a quote that is only tangentially related to the article in that it deals with the subject of A2 migration to give a bit of weight to its lame figures. Oh, and you might be interested to know the answer to the question about the numbers of A2 migrants. It's this:
The hon. Gentleman asked for data on the number of A2 migrants coming to this country, and they will be available on 22 May, when they will be published alongside Office for National Statistics data on a range of other migration matters.
So we'll get the proper figure in a few weeks. If the paper really wanted to report on the number of migrants, it would wait. But it's more interested in banging out a probably exaggeratedly high figure and its time's nearly up.

The second example is from my last post, 'No they don't'. I don't need to do much more than reproduce the quote from Inayat Bunglawala from his piece in the Guardian, but I want to point one thing out. First, the quote:
To add further insult, the Express story contains a quote from me saying that: "We believe one legal code should apply for all citizens of the UK. There is no place for multiple legal systems for people of different religious or ethnic backgrounds."

Now I had certainly not given this quote to the Express reporter, Paul Jeeves, under whose byline, the story appears. I have never spoken with Paul Jeeves about Shariah courts. I can only imagine that he cut and pasted this quote of mine from over a year ago when I was discussing the question of a dual criminal code system operating in the UK - not voluntary Shariah courts dealing with civil matters.
So, you can see that Der Sturmer have used a misleading quote to give the impression that Mr Bunglawala's position is actually the opposite of what it would be in this case. That's unbelieveable if you think about it.

Always, always be sceptical about quotes you read in the papers. Always.

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