The Daily Mail is an awful, racist, hard-right UK newspaper, notorious for scare stories (see, for example, this exhaustive index of things that the Fail claims will give you cancer) and generally terrible reporting.
But even in amidst all that notorious history of deceit and hate, the Mail attained something of a new low recently, with its "reporting" on the supposed wave of Bulgarian and Romanian immigrants. According to the Mail, these people were poised to invade the UK on January 1, 2014, when those countries' EU membership would entitle their citizens travel throughout the EU and seek work without visas.
Jon Danzig, an investigative BBC journalist, plucked one of the many such stories out of the paper's pages, a mere 890 words' worth, and, with the help of a colleague in Romania, found 13 lies. He pressed the Mail to substantiate its story, and, failing to receive a satisfactory reply, he filed a formal complaint with the Press Complaints Commission.
The Mail's xenophobic campaign against Bulgarians and Romanians has been instrumental in shifting both Labour and the Tories to adopting inhumane policies, in order to pander to people who've been terrorised into a false belief that somehow migrants are coming to both take away British jobs and collect benefits (that is, to work and not work simultaneously).
Claim 5: When controls imposed in 2005 are lifted tomorrow, 29 million from the two countries will gain the right to work in Britain
Apart from the fact that it simply isn’t possible, let alone likely, that the entire populations of Bulgaria and Romania would all move to the UK, the Daily Mail’s claim that 29 million from both countries have ‘the right to work in Britain’ from 1 January cannot be correct. Romania has 3.5 million children under the age of 15; many of them are babies. Is the Mail claiming they have ‘the right to work in Britain’? There are also almost 1.2 million children in Bulgaria, and a combined elderly population of Bulgaria and Romania of over 4.5 million. Are they all coming to work in the UK too?
Also, the Daily Mail was incorrect to state that ‘controls’ were imposed on Romanians and Bulgarians in 2005. The ‘transitional controls’ were imposed by some EU member states – including the UK – in 2007 when Romania and Bulgaria first joined the European Union. During the transitional period, Romanians and Bulgarians could only work in the UK with a work permit, although students could work for 20 hours a week during term time and full time during holidays. From 1 January 2014, Romanians and Bulgarians are able to come to work in the UK, or to look for work, on the same basis as other European Union nationals.
Claim 6: One user of a popular website wrote: “My husband and I want to have a child in the UK. We want to know what kind of benefits we can apply for. We are interested in receiving a council house.”
The Daily Mail claimed that messages on internet forums in Bulgaria and Romania asked how to claim benefits in the UK. No details of the website forums were given in The Mail story. The Mail declined to let me have the addresses of the websites they referred to, so that I could check them. Of course that doesn’t mean such forums don’t exist; but it does seem odd, and not best journalistic practice, for the Mail not be open about this.
13 reasons why I am taking the Daily Mail to the Press Complaints Commission [Jon Danzig/British Influence]
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.