Daily Mail claims ‘7 in 10 Calais migrants get into UK’ – without any evidence

An old quote is published as news to prove something it does not say


Yesterday’s Daily Mail ran yet another front page story on the Calais ‘migrant crisis’, this time reporting:


Daily Mail 3 8 15

But as Full Fact reports, the Mail has no evidence for this assertion.

The story begins:

As many as 70 per cent of the thousands of migrants massing at Calais are making it to Britain, MPs have been warned.

The revelation by a police chief that up to 900 illegal immigrants make it to the UK every month came amid frantic efforts by ministers to show they are finally getting a grip on the crisis.”

The Mail cites Kent chief constable Alan Pughsley’s written evidence to parliament’s home affairs select committee, delivered weeks ago on July 16.

Pughsley was asked how many ‘repeat migrants’ were trying to reach the UK, not how many succeed.

He replied:

“Having consulted with our French colleagues, they have confirmed that through their own research 70 percent of migrants they process in the area of Calais leave the vicinity within a four month period.

They cannot ascertain whether these migrants leave to go elsewhere in France, or whether they enter the UK. Either way, their figures identify a transient migrant population.”

In other words:

1. the ‘news’ is based on a two weeks’ old quote.

2. the 70 percent figure is how many people leave Calais over four months – not how many enter Britain.

Even so, the Mail chose to use and misrepresent the quote for a front page story.

Then there’s the Mail’s creative use of mathematics. As the story later explains, the ‘900 a month‘ figure is reached this way:

Based on the assumption that the migrants make it to the UK, rather than give up after trekking thousands of miles to reach Calais, it would mean as many as 3,500 of the 5,000 currently in the town will get through.

Over the course of a year, it is the equivalent of 10,500 – or 900 a month – making it across the Channel.”

This is a big admission, tucked away on page 2, that the story is ‘based on the assumption’ that people reach Britain! But the Mail’s headline and introduction state this as fact, rather than speculation, which is all it really amounts to.

(Note also the opinionated, almost sarcastic justification provided: ‘..rather than give up after trekking thousands of miles to reach Calais..’)

While, as we’ve seen, 70 percent refers to how many people left Calais over a four month period, the Mail applies it to the current total number of people in the Calais camp, projects it across a year, and then divides it by 12 to reach a monthly figure: ‘900 a month making it across the Channel’.

Aside from the bogus numbers, we don’t know if they are ‘making it across the Channel’ any more than we know 7 in 10 ‘are making it to Britain’.

Just to recap then:

The Daily Mail has published old information as news, misrepresented it, and used speculation and dodgy calculations to assert as fact a claim for which there is no evidence.

‘7 in 10 Calais migrants get into UK’? What rot.

Adam Barnett is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow MediaWatch on Twitter

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Read more: 

Mail on Sunday’s shady ‘Calais migrants in hotels’ story is willfully misleading

Rod Liddle says send migrants back to Syria in the Sun’s shameful Calais coverage

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