The Express suggested that a Boston school full to British kids last month opened its gates to hoardes of Eastern Europeans. You didn’t need to go any further than the headline to get the picture.
The Express quoted "furious" - but unnamed - parents whose children were apparently refused a place at Haven High School, Boston, last month despite migrant children being accepted.
And in case readers didn’t fully appreciate the anti-migrant message, the Express story came complete with a predictable quote from Mark Simmonds, Tory MP for Boston with Skegness, naturally attempting to kick the Government over immigration.
BBC Radio Lincolnshire ran the story on their Breakfast programme, reading out quotes from the Express story.
Some time later the BBC managed to get hold of the Head Teacher of Haven High. Adrian Reed told a very different story to the one in the Express.
These are his words:
I’m rather concerned that information that I gave to the Sunday Telegraph during the middle of the week has been totally misquoted and
The Sunday Telegraph got hold of a letter that I wrote to the Local
Education Authority actually in 2005.
This is the last academic year, not this year. We had had children who
had been Appealing to get into Haven High because we were full and we were going through the processes of Appeals and all the legal process.
At the same time, we had a large number of families from Europe arrive in
the first days of term, so I did speak to the Local Authority and we both agreed
that we would suspend our pupil admission number to accommodate children.
But it was not only the European children. We also therefore suspended all the Appeals and gave places to everybody.
I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to read the article (in the Express)
this morning but you don’t feel it’s at all a fair representation of the
No it’s not. It’s totally inaccurate.I’ll not hold my breath for an apology from the Express – nor hold out any hope for their readers to be told the facts. Who needs facts when you can have migrant-bashing dogma?
As I say, it was a letter that wrote to the Authority over twelve
months ago now and, at the end of the day, I take the approach that children
need to be in a school.
Whatever children, wherever they’re from, we need to make sure that our
children get into school and we were faced with a particular problem over twelve months ago and this seemed to me to be a proper response to it.
Clearly there are challenges facing some schools – particularly in the Boston area where the agricultural industry would come to a grinding halt without migrant workers.
The Express is not the only rag guilty of not letting the facts of a story get in the way of a sensational headline to deliver a political agenda.
But inaccurate headlines cause nothing but resentment and seriously damage to community cohesion.
FOOTNOTE: I watched a fascinating TV programme last night on the trial of Hitler's Deputy Rudolf Hess which chronicled anti-Jewish propaganda by the Nazis.
We all know where that led...