Apparently I might have been a bit harsh on the BBC yesterday. It is James Mills of the Save EMA campaign who is the liar. The BBC merely naively repeated the claims of a Labour party worker without checking them. Their (typically anonymous, hard to nail down) response to my complaint is reproduced below.
Dear Mr Taylor,
Thank you for your email. The information that there were hundreds of people at the event came from James Mills – who claims there were about 300 there.
We asked the Metropolitan Police if they had any figures and they told us that their log showed about 80 people at the protest at about 12.30pm, as people were leaving.
We have slightly amended our story to reflect this. The number of people at protests is often a contentious issue and, as people arrive and leave throughout the day, it is almost impossible to give an exact figure.
BBC News Website
Does anyone really think that there would have been any more “students” outside Hammermith Town Hall before 12.30pm?
The totally unsustainable standfirst used over the weekend, namely:
Hundreds of students have gathered outside a Conservative conference in London to protest at the scrapping of Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA).
Has now been replaced with:
Students have gathered outside a Conservative conference in London to protest at the scrapping of Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA).
In addition the following paragraph has been added:
He claimed up to 300 people took part in the protest while the Metropolitan Police said about 80 demonstrators were outside the Town Hall until about 1230 GMT.
The original story is in tatters. Does this matter? Have I achieved anything? I donâ€™t know. The BBC online news people still donâ€™t want to accept that there were practically no EMA recipients at the tiny demo on Saturday. If we can persuade the BBC to be more careful then it will take away some of the leftâ€™s oxygen and the lies will stop running around the world. Maybe not! At least all of those Twitter links are pointing to a more accurate story.