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Friday, September 29, 2023

Braverman admonished

The Guardian reports on the presss regulator ruling that Suella Braverman and the Mail on Sunday falsely claimed child grooming gangs in the UK were “almost all British-Pakistani”.

The paper says that the home secretary made the claim in a Mail on Sunday article published in April, where she singled out British-Pakistani men as being involved in child sexual abuse due to “cultural attitudes completely incompatible with British values” that “have been left mostly unchallenged both within their communities and by wider society”.

However, Ipso has forced the Mail on Sunday to issue an apology and correction to Braverman’s piece after concluding the statement was false:

The regulator said Braverman’s decision to link “the identified ethnic group and a particular form of offending was significantly misleading” because the Home Office’s own research had concluded offenders were mainly from white backgrounds.

In its defence, the Mail on Sunday argued that prior to publication it had double-checked Braverman’s decision to single out British-Pakistanis with advisers to the home secretary and the prime minister, Rishi Sunak. Both teams at the top level of government confirmed they had “no concern over this particular line” and were happy for it to be published.

The newspaper also unsuccessfully argued it was entitled to rely on factual information provided by the home secretary about the ethnicities of grooming gangs because the Home Office was the department responsible for dealing with the issue – and Braverman was the most senior member of that department.

The regulator concluded that, regardless of the discussions that had gone on behind the scenes, the Mail on Sunday had published an inaccurate statement as fact. This has led to the highly unusual situation of a newspaper printing a factual correction to a comment article authored by a leading cabinet minister.

Although there have been several high-profile examples of British-Pakistanis involved in grooming gangs, research published by the Home Office in 2020 showed that offenders are “most commonly white” and come from diverse backgrounds.

It is good to see overt racism from government ministers and some of the media challenged in this way, however the prevailing anti-immigrant narrative continues to dominate Tory propaganda and it looks likely to get worse as the general election gets closer.
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