David Davis APOLOGY alert: Grauniad confirms slip-up

by Stephen Tall on July 10, 2008

Yesterday I noted with some dismay a quote attributed to David Davis in The Guardian, suggesting that the Lib Dems had ‘funked’ putting up a candidate in today’s Haltemprice and Howden by-election – when in fact Mr Davis and Nick Clegg came to an agreement that the Lib Dems would not contest the seat before the former Tory shadow home secretary announced his resignation.

I’ve just received the following email from Martin Wainwright, the Guardian journalist who authored the piece:

Just to alert you asap to the fact that the quote attributed to David Davis by me about the LIb Dems ‘funking it’ was my fault – putting you in with Labour in a rush – and we are running a correction. Sorry, age and haste. The Correct quote is on the Guardian audio material on the website. The draft correction I’ve just sent reads:

In a piece on the Haltemprice and Howden by-election published on July 9, we wrongly quoted the Conservative candidate David Davis as saying that the Liberal Democrats had ‘funked’ the poll. He has always made it clear that he is grateful for the Liberal Democrats’ support for his views on the 42 day detention and related civil liberties issues. The mistake was made in transcription of the related audio report which carried his actual comments, and we apologise for that.

LDV likewise apologises to Mr Davis’s shade.

Enjoy reading this? Please like and share:

No comments

Are they actively trying to become a parody of themselves?

by Julian H on July 10, 2008 at 10:11 am. Reply #

Slightly different mood today Julian? 😉

by Mark Wright on July 10, 2008 at 10:30 am. Reply #

Oh dear. Shouldn’t you have checked before coming out with all that stuff about “a bounder and a braggart”?

by Anonymous on July 10, 2008 at 10:41 am. Reply #

No, he shouldn’t have checked. What sort of world do we live in, when newspapers regularly just get it wrong and don’t seem to care about it. We should expect to be able to believe quotes in quality newspapers. The Grauniad are the only ones at fault here.

by anonymous on July 10, 2008 at 10:54 am. Reply #

Yeh, well, if you will insist on getting your news from the Guardian …

Any paper that thinks that Toynbee and Ashley are enlightening commentators should be read with a bucket of salt handy.

by passing tory on July 10, 2008 at 11:09 am. Reply #

First Anon – I made it clear in the original piece the quote had been attributed to David Davis by the Guardian – as soon as notified by the Guardian of the journalist’s error I’ve issued a correction, and updated the original article. I think that counts as both reasonable and responsible.

by Stephen Tall on July 10, 2008 at 11:17 am. Reply #

Reasonable and responsible?

Calling people all sorts of names on the basis of an unsubstantiated news report, without even checking? Surely you know you can’t believe everything you read in the papers?

by Anonymous on July 10, 2008 at 11:46 am. Reply #

So, Anonymous, I presume you have never offered an opinion based on information in a newspaper report.

by Julian H on July 10, 2008 at 11:52 am. Reply #

If you read Stephen’s posting yesterday he said:

“Which makes it all the more disappointing to see him stooping to indulge in petty partisan politics, at least according to this quote in today’s Guardian attributed to Mr Davis:”

He makes it quite clear that his comments are dependant on the report being true. Stephen, you are in the clear on this one.

by anonymous (the other anonymous) on July 10, 2008 at 12:47 pm. Reply #

And presumably the “Bounder and Braggart” headline was just added by a subeditor.

by Anonymous on July 10, 2008 at 1:02 pm. Reply #

While the temptation is to slag Stephen off for writing what he did, I’m not sure I could really claim that I would have waited for confirmation first. We’re all used to taking the word of the MSM. It’s just a habit we’re going to have to rid ourselves of.

by bishop Hill on July 10, 2008 at 1:24 pm. Reply #

Is it just me, or is the timing of this error and its subsequent correction just a little too convenient?

by bishop Hill on July 10, 2008 at 1:27 pm. Reply #

bishop hill

I find it strange you should say that, because you responded to Stephen’s article just over half an hour after it was posted with a post querying whether Davis really had said it, and pointing out that it wasn’t in the audio report.

As the correction said, “He has always made it clear that he is grateful for the Liberal Democrats’ support for his views on the 42 day detention and related civil liberties issues”. It would have been a bizarre thing for Davis to say, particularly given the widespread belief that he announced his resignation only on the understanding that the Lib Dems _wouldn’t_ stand in the by election.

by Anonymous on July 10, 2008 at 1:33 pm. Reply #

“No, he shouldn’t have checked.”

You should always check that what a newspaper is reporting is actually correct before relying on it. At least one Lib Dem candidate I know of had to make a fairly hefty libel settlement after putting out a leaflet based on a report (in the Guardian as it happens) about his opponent.

Whilst an opposing candidate might settle for an apology and correction from a national newspaper they might not be as accomodating towards a political opponent.

by Hywel Morgan on July 10, 2008 at 2:28 pm. Reply #

Ok he’s not a Bounder and Braggart

He is the Messiah

by Cheltenham Robin on July 10, 2008 at 2:31 pm. Reply #

Hywel: did you check independently your facts before making comments such as http://www.libdemvoice.org/why-the-eu-is-losing-the-argument-2874.html#comment-52786 ?

I suspect not 🙂

And I don’t see why you should have. We all rely on what is reported by others to some degree. A healthy scepticism of single – or indeed multiple – reports however isn’t the same as saying that you should never ever say something based on just the one newspaper report.

by Mark Pack on July 10, 2008 at 3:02 pm. Reply #

“A healthy scepticism of single – or indeed multiple – reports however isn’t the same as saying that you should never ever say something based on just the one newspaper report.”

But if a single newspaper report claims someone has said something that completely contradicts the line they’ve previously maintained, it’s rather stupid to launch a volley of insults at the person on that basis, without checking your facts.

by Anonymous on July 10, 2008 at 4:01 pm. Reply #

Anon, do you mind if I ask what your beef really is here? You refuse to accept the arguments that (a) one is entitled to expect a basic level of accuracy in the MSM and (b) a correction was published as soon as available. But whether you like it or not, practically everyone else does accept these. So what’s your (continued) point? What exactly would it gladden your heart to have Stephen/someone else say? Because I don’t think “I am a worthless human being, the integrity of LDV is imperilled forever and Anonymous is right about absolutely everything” is on the cards, frankly.

by Alix on July 10, 2008 at 4:53 pm. Reply #

Because I don’t think “I am a worthless human being, the integrity of LDV is imperilled [sic] forever and Anonymous is right about absolutely everything” is on the cards, frankly.

You disappoint me, Alix 🙂

Mind you, it was a slightly suspicious quote given DDs very clear position on the LDs on this particular issue (and, to be fair, was picked up by some as such) so the headline might have been a bit OTT.

by passing tory on July 10, 2008 at 5:06 pm. Reply #

Alix

All I’m saying is that Stephen Tall was unwise to attack David Davis on the basis of a single newspaper report which claimed he had said something that completely contradicted the line he has consistently followed for the last few weeks.

Frankly, it astonishes me that you and others seem to find this controversial.

by Anonymous on July 10, 2008 at 5:14 pm. Reply #

Hm? I think double-L is fine, isn’t it? Or are dictionaries not to be trusted? 😉

Increasingly, though, I can’t stand the Grauniad. Nor can most of its regular readers, to go by CiF – and especially the responses to Ashley, Toynbee et al.

by Alix on July 10, 2008 at 5:18 pm. Reply #

Sorry, that was to PT

by Alix on July 10, 2008 at 5:21 pm. Reply #

I prefer the Independent, myself. 🙂

by asquith on July 10, 2008 at 5:26 pm. Reply #

“I suspect not”

You’d be right 🙂 It doesn’t change what I said And repeating something you have read elsewhere isn’t a defence if it turns out to be incorrect. Doing just that cost a former candidate a bit of money and certainly derailed his election campaign.

Do as I say not as I do applies 🙂 Especially so if you are making comments about someone’s character based on such reports.

by Hywel Morgan on July 10, 2008 at 5:51 pm. Reply #

Anonymous

Yes, I did check it. My point was rather that I wouldn’t automatically have done it, the story coming from the MSM. It didn’t quite ring true with me because, as you say, there was such a public deal with Clegg. I just don’t want to leap to condemn Stephen for not having the same hunch.

by bishop Hill on July 10, 2008 at 5:58 pm. Reply #

I too grow increasingly bored with the Guardian. When Labour seemed electorally untouchable itt had its moments since its commentators wasn’t afraid to lay into the Government on occasion. Now though they seem to have thrown up the barricades and become a Labour mouthpiece. Most of the opinion pieces have lapsed into desparate attempts to be shocking and confrontational and Polly Toynbee is essentially self parody now.

I’m not given to conspiracy theories so I don’t think they misquoted Davis on purpose, just as I’m prepared to accept that they weren’t deliberately misrepresenting the ramificiations of the voting system in the Mayoral election. Rather it’s typical laziness and an inability to think beyond the confines of old fashion politics – I reckon the reporter assumed that Davis said that because that’s what politicians say. I still browse the Guardian onlione but I certainly wouldn’t pay money for it. Frankly I wouldn’t mourn if they went down with the New Labour ship.

As to Stephen Tall’s piece, I probably wouldn’t have been quite so strident without corroboration but that’s just me, I’m naturally a rather cautious. I certainly don’t think it was the cardinal sin that some people seem to be suggesting.

by Painfully Liberal on July 10, 2008 at 8:14 pm. Reply #

“I certainly don’t think it was the cardinal sin that some people seem to be suggesting.”

Isn’t all this getting rather silly?

No one has suggested it was a “cardinal sin”, still less than Stephen is “a worthless human being” or any of the other straw-man nonsense that Alix came out with.

All that’s being said is that, considering how inconsistent the claim was with everything Davis had said before, the facts should have been checked before the name-calling started.

by Anonymous on July 10, 2008 at 8:25 pm. Reply #

Leave your comment

Required.

Required. Not published.

If you have one.