As others have already noted, the Mail has found another swan story with which to beat the foreigners. As with the original story seen in The Sun and Mail many months ago, it seems to have little or no basis in fact. Still, why let that get in the way of a good smear.
The vital ingredients for this Right Royal recipe are all there:
The hearsay evidence."It makes me sick to my stomach. I have heard it is mostly Eastern Europeans who are camping here until they can get a house," she told The Sun.
Leaving aside the fact that this quote comes after mentioning a David Gibson, it is unacceptable to allow uncorroborated third-hand comment to masquerade as fact and evidence. Of course, the Mail knows exactly what it is doing as many of its readers (certainly judging from its readers who post) do not read past the headline. As I recently pointed out in the story in Wirral regarding travellers, this kind of reporting is despicable.
- Tenuous link to Eastern Europeans
Three tents remained in the camp on Wednesday. Two young Poles living there refused to come out and speak to reporters but denied taking the swans.
A Romanian bible and cooking equipment could be seen outside another tent, while putrid food and thousands of feathers were nearby the third.
- Link to last urban myth
They were spotted trying to drag the 20lb birds away from the Grand Union Canal, while remains of butchered swans were found on the towpath in Leighton Buzzard.
Hundreds of swans were thought to have disappeared from the area, prompting the local angling club to erect a sign reminding people they are protected by law.
Yet wait! As others such as septicisle point out, the original story, like this one first emerged in the Merseyside favourite, The Soaraway Sun. The same paper, which in 2004 grudgingly 'apologised' (clarified) when a challenge was made to the Press Complaints Commission (as reported by the Telegraph here)
The adjudication, whilst disappointing given the agenda of the right-wing press, nonetheless shows that these stories are usually complete crap. That is not to say that the story could be true or have some semblance of truth; the worry is that evidence that would be laughed out of court, is routinely allowed and implied as being factual.
Then, the Mail just allows the comments to flood in as the usual suspects find the green-coloured font on their PCs:
- Just one more example of the rape of this country. Even our precious wildlife is being decimated. But the biggest criminals are those traitors in Westminster who have betrayed us.- John Reed, Wolverhampton. England
- Our shores have previously been invaded by foreigners who showed less barbarity than this scum.- Tc, Leeds, U.K.
- That's what happens when you open the country's doors to the scum of Europe! Nothing will be done to these pieces of dirt, I guarantee it!- Sarah, Glasgow
- This is surely a crime Swans are protected birds. How disgusting people can come to this Country and just do as they like. They should be thrown out ASAP.- Jacqui W., Southampton
- No good Erecting signs they probably don't understand them any way. No we have to be really tough here. This is a crime of the worst form and has to be sorted out now. It's great this so called EU lets all get together lark. We just don't live the same as these people therefore we will never integrate.- Jacqui W., Southampton
The Sun actually gas pictures! Strangely, there is no picture linking the shocking carcasses and the cooking pot. Also, no sign of the large pinch of salt needed to be taken when reading these stories.
What if there was some truth in it? Well, there was the case of Shamsu Miah,
who may have been one whooper short of a lamentation, but contrast that with this case (spookily also in Bedford like the one alluded to by The Sun above).
There have also been cases in this area of swans and other wildlife targeted by air rifles (the main photo was taken by moi in Chester), and let's not forget the pollution caused by (some) anglers and the environmental costs of the humble plastic bag. Maybe the Mail would like to start a campaign...........
Finally, I think I've identified a possible foreign connection -