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Leveson finds tabloid press reporting on asylum seekers "concerning"

The long-awaited Leveson report into press standards has been published today.

“It seems that a raising of the game is also required in relation to the representation of some ethnic minorities, immigrants and asylum seekers.”

“[the Inquiry heard] concern that Muslims, migrants and asylum seekers Gypsies/Travellers are regularly presented in a negative light in the mainstream media, and in particular the tabloid press, where they are frequently portrayed, for example, as being by definition associated with terrorism, sponging off British society, making bogus claims for protection or being troublemakers.”

“This conclusion, and in particular, the identification of Muslims, migrants, asylum seekers and gypsies/travellers as the targets of press hostility and/or xenophobia in the press, was supported by the evidence seen by the Inquiry.”

The Leveson report included the following evidence that papers “wilfully” produce stories “which are factually incorrect” in order to “fit with a newspaper’s adopted viewpoint”:

The Sun’s story headlined “Swan Bake”, which alleged that gangs of Eastern European asylum seekers were killing and eating swans from ponds and lakes in London. Unidentified people were cited as witnesses to the phenomenon, but it seemed there was no basis to the story: the Sun was unable to defend the article against a PCC complaint.

The Daily Star’s article headlined “Asylum seekers eat our donkeys.” The story told of the disappearance of nine donkeys from Greenwich Royal Park. The police were reported as having no idea what had happened to the donkeys but, in a piece of total speculation, the story went on to claim that donkey meat was a speciality in Somalia and Eastern Europe, that there were “large numbers of Somalian asylum-seekers” in the area and some Albanians nearby, and concluded that asylum seekers had eaten the donkeys.

The Daily Mail’s erroneous report that a judge had allowed an immigrant to remain in the UK because “the right to family life” protected his relationship with his cat.

An excerpt of the part of the report which focuses on Ethnic minorities, immigrants and asylum seekers has been made available on the Electronic Immigration Network.

You can also download the full Leveson report in PDF form.