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

The paper distorts reality and fuels resentment of hungry asylum seekers


In the alternative universe curated by the right-wing press, Britain is being far too compassionate in its response to the Calais ‘migrant crisis’.

Today’s Mail on Sunday shrieks that hundreds of ‘stowaway’ migrants are being put up in hotels at taxpayers’ expense, receiving hot meals in luxury accommodation.

However, this claim is grossly misleading, as the story itself eventually reveals.

The story begins:

Hundreds of migrants who have smuggled themselves into Britain from Calais are being put up in hotels at taxpayers’ expense.”

It claims illegal ‘stowaways’ are being given ‘their own hotel room, three cooked meals a day and a cash allowance of £35 a week – all within days of entering the UK’, at hotels with gyms, spas and swimming pools.

But around half way through the story, the word ‘migrants’ is suddenly replaced by ‘asylum seekers’.

So what’s going on here? Writer Jon Danzig has put it succinctly:

“100 asylum seekers (not hundreds of migrants) are being temporarily put up in hotels by private contractor Serco ‘at no extra cost to taxpayers‘ because their immigration centres are currently full.”

This is based on information in the Mail’s own story:

“Serco said last night that it was housing 100 asylum seekers in hotels but insisted it did not cost taxpayers extra as the money comes out of the general funds it receives from the Home Office.”

Comparing these facts with the story’s opening claims, this is very shady work from the Mail. 

Technically, asylum seekers are also migrants. But the terms have different legal and political meanings, as the Mail well knows. It uses ‘migrants’ on purpose to fudge the difference.

Again, technically the people in question are in hotels ‘at taxpayers’ expense’ – but using money already given to Serco, not extra funds from the UK budget.

As for exaggerating the numbers from Seco’s 100 (not in quotes, interestingly) to ‘hundreds’, and leaving the temporary and emergency nature of what is really happening till later in the story, this is grossly misleading.

Readers might conclude this story is representative of the UK’s response to the migrant crisis, rather than a novel exception.

The context is important. All week the Daily Mail has been calling on the government to get tough and ‘send in the army’, as if people fleeing Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Eritrea haven’t faced enough violence yet.

Yesterday the paper’s front page scoffed at prime minister David Cameron’s sending sniffer dogs and building a fence in Calais, under the headline ‘How feeble’.

Today’s Mail on Sunday does accidentally raise questions about how well private companies like Serco are running detention centres, and whether more money should be spent on ‘processing’ migrants and asylum seekers.

But it seems they’d rather distort reality and fuel resentment about tired, frightened, desperate people having a hot sandwich and somewhere to sleep.


As an antidote to stories like this, MediaWatch recommends this piece by Fleet Street Fox in the Mirror and this report from Calais by the Observer’s Nick Cohen.

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

Read more: 

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

Daily Mail’s 5 step guide to demonising migrants

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45 Responses to “Mail on Sunday’s shady ‘Calais migrants in hotels’ story is willfully misleading”

  1. Cat

    Its kinda sad how much hatred the DM has for them

  2. GhostofJimMorisson

    What really baffles me is why these people are so desperate to leave Socialist France – where we’re told the benefits are much more generous – and come to neoliberal Tory, austerity Britain, where the poor are constantly ‘demonised’ and must rely on food banks. Such a mystery…

  3. TheBlackFingerNail

    To sell a few miserable newspapers they do this sort of thing. We all ought to do a father ted and stay on their doorstep with signs with Carefull now and Down with this sort of thing

  4. Matt Booth

    Not that I agree with the Daily Mail, but this irks me:

    “The context is important. All week the Daily Mail has been calling on the government to get tough and ‘send in the army’, as if people fleeing Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Eritrea haven’t faced enough violence yet.”

    Just remind me how far away and how many countries need to be crossed to get the the UK?

  5. Cole

    Makes you wonder how the owners and editor of the Mail live with themselves. But they do earn a very great deal of money, so I guess they don’t care about being evil.

  6. Rowdie111

    Well these asylum seekers are being put up in hotels or they are not. And if they are then someone must be footing the cost…one presumes they are not paying for ti themselves…….lets bring them all in ?

  7. Pamela

    Why do some in the UK, hate their own UK countrymen? To call UK citizens “anti-immigrant” really means, they are Pro-UK citizen.

  8. Dai

    There is hyperbole in the Mail story, but how is something paid for from tax revenues only ‘technically’ funded by tax payers (even if already part of the Serco contract)? Did Adam never hear of the concept of opportunity cost? His ‘correction’ involves just as much obfuscation as the Mail story. What some need to appreciate is that there are plenty of people from the centre left who oppose open borders.

  9. Boney N

    Hotels Known To Be Used By Serco And S4C For Housing Illegal Immigrants Falsifying As Asylum Seekers

    Southern England
    Coniston Hotel, Sittingbourne, Kent – planned to be used 2002, local objections so use cancelled
    The Roundhouse Hotel, Bournemouth, Dorset (Britannia Hotels) – 2014
    Heathlands Hotel, Bournemouth. Dorset (Britannia Hotels) – 2014
    Queens Hotel, Church Road, South London – 2014
    Grand Burstin Hotel, Folkestone, Kent – 2014

    Ramada Birmingham Oldbury, Birmingham – 2014

    Northern England
    Amblehurst Hotel, Sale, Manchester – 2013
    Daresbury Park Hotel, Daresbury, Warrington, Cheshire – 2014
    Ramada Encore, Barnsley, South Yorkshire – 2014
    Holiday Inn, Barnsley, South Yorkshire – 2014
    Britannia Hotel, Wigan, Cheshire (Britannia Hotels) aka ‘Another Sangatte’ – 2015
    Best Western Park Hall Hotel, Charnock Richard, Preston, Lancashire – 2015

  10. r jones

    Pamela, you really need to learn the difference between hating your countrymen and disagreeing with them.

    Similarly, being “pro-your country” doesn’t mean you must also be “anti-immigrant”. Your logic is deeply flawed and a product of your own fear and wilful ignorance.

    Perhaps you should consider why so many people are fleeing this area of the middle east? Did you know that Syria absorbed a FIFTEENTH of their total population in Iraqi refugees as a result of George W.Bush and Tony Blair’s foolhardy military antics? That’s the equivalent of 20 MILLION refugees arriving in the US or 4 MILLION refugees arriving in the UK.

    What sort of life do you think these refugees were living in Syria? Do you think this additional pressure contributed to the destabilisation and collapse of Syria into civil war?

    Perhaps, like many US and UK citizens you “supported the troops” and stood by while hundreds of thousands of people were maimed and killed by our military force in Iraq.

    The problem is, military action like this has long term consequences. We will ALL have to live with these consequences, be they mass immigration or terrorism. We broke it. We own it.

  11. r jones

    I thought S4C housed illegal immigrants in picturesque cottages in Pembrokeshire?

  12. GTE


    And now for the blatently obvious. Those ‘asylum seekers’ in Calais. Just what terrors are they fleeing from in France?

    Yeah, right. They are all economic migrants unwilling to claim asylum in France because they have no hope of claiming asylum.

  13. GTE

    They aren’t fleeing Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Eritrea. They are fleeing FRANCE

  14. GTE

    Obvious. They aren’t asylum seekers they are economic migrants.

  15. GhostofJimMorisson

    You really are quite comically hysterical. You need to go away and look into what evil really is.

  16. GhostofJimMorisson

    Yes, fleeing the Socialist paradise that is France to come over to nasty Tory Britain.

  17. GhostofJimMorisson

    I know, was being sarcastic. I’m just sick of being told by the whingeing left about how awful this country and particularly the government is, yet these people are willing to cross oceans and escape socialist France to come here.

  18. Richard Heade

    Stop splitting hairs, you know full well what Matt Booth was intimating at.

  19. Mary Smith

    What you forget to say is that, according to the Red Cross, barely 1-2% apply for asylum in France. For the rest, Britain is where the streets are paved with gold.

    Unlike in France or Germany, refugees who reach Britain instantly acquire the effective status of asylum seeker so those illegals are immediately classed as asylum seekers.

  20. Mary Smith

    Once they set foot on UK soil they are immediately classed as asylum seekers and that’s why they come here.

  21. /O43 |_|K19!!

    FTA: “Technically, asylum seekers are also migrants”

    So it is THIS story’s headline that is wilfully misleading, not the Mail on Sunday’s story. How typical of the left – no compunction about pointing the finger whilst doing the exact same thing themselves. They think “it’s OK when we do it, because we’re the good guys”, impervious to the inherent circular reasoning.

  22. Mary Smith

    They started out as illegals but as soon as they get to the UK they are given asylum status. The French don’t do that which is why they come here and why they are called both illegals and asylum seekers.

  23. /O43 |_|K19!!

    Dear R Jones

    We HAVE absorbed 4 million immigrants from Africa and Asia. And their culture is radically different from ours (whereas Iraq and Syria are neighbours).

    You make one good point though – massive immigration from countries with highly warlike recent histories can lead to destabilisation of the host countries.

    If you hate our troops, you should ask, who will protect you when the Jihadis come for YOU?
    (PS you won’t be able to appease them)

  24. /O43 |_|K19!!

    It’s sad that you can’t understand why people might disagree with you because you are so narcissistic. So you just assume they are driven by hate. Yet, to a great many people in the UK, you lefties appear to hate your own country. Which is why we can never elect you into government again.

  25. Cat

    Thats a lot of assuming for 1 sentence.

  26. Tracey Hickson

    It’s not one sentence…. I count at least 3 full stops and one comma (full stops denote the end of a sentence).

  27. Wobblypig

    Also as an aside the other “story” on that page about Ben Cohen and his wifes “fury” is totally fabricated as he is there with both of them and he posted the snide letter shoved under his bedroom door asking for his comments on facebook.

  28. Cat

    I was referring to my sentence. Although I realise I did not make that obvious so that’s a mistake on my part.

  29. blarg1987

    Think it is because they read what newspapers like the Daily Mail write, instead of being factually accurate.

  30. mikesey

    They also know that they can leap into the black economy, knowing full well that they can earn money, and literally disappear from sight with not much risk of being caught, as we have no ID card system here.
    Actually, although the proposed ID cards were abandoned by the coalition government, the cards-for- immigrants laws were not rescinded, and can still be used.

  31. JoeDM

    Well done the Daily Mail.

    Send them back !!!

  32. Cole

    Oh yes, all those folk from Eritrea and Syria and Sudan. Maybe you don’t know anything about those places.

  33. Cole

    I’d have thought decades of stirring up hatred against immigrants was pretty evil. But I guess if you’d been around in the 1930s you’d have opposed those Jewish refugees coming in, claiming their were economic migrants.

  34. Cole

    And the French and the Germans have taken in many more of these people than we have. The numbers at Calais are pretty small – although you’d think there were millions of them if you read the hysterical Tory press.

  35. Mary Smith

    The Red Cross say that the black market is worth £80 billion per year and less than 1 in 40 illegals are repatriated. That’s why they come here, because France doesn’t give them instant asylum status but the UK does and, once here, they can work on the black market and disappear.

  36. mikesey

    I have difficulty with those figures.
    How can illegals paying no tax contribute that huge amount; indeed how can the Red Cross even know what the figures might be?

  37. Mary Smith

    The black market isn’t just for illegals and it doesn’t contribute to the economy. It’s an illegal economy but it’s run by criminals of all kinds and involves all kinds of goods drugs, cigarettes counterfeit designer clothing etc

    Britain’s black market accounts for about 10pc of the economy, or more than £150bn a year, depriving the country of billions of pounds of lost taxes, according to a report by the Institute of Economic Affairs.

    I don’t know how the Red Cross know about it but it’s what they said.

  38. Matt Booth

    Those countries are closer to those regions than we are, by a long shot.

  39. GhostofJimMorisson

    Oh spare me your lame Nazi comparisons. I suppose you haven’t heard the saying ‘whoever mentions the Nazis first has lost the argument’. It’s a pitiful and spineless tactic, designed to shut down the debate.

  40. GhostofJimMorisson

    The majority of the Calais migrants are pretty well educated and middle class. How else can they afford to pay several thousand pounds to criminal gangs to smuggle them into Europe? The real poor and desperate are left behind.

  41. Jack

    Amazing how the left try to break down this story and make it seem innocuous. The fact is these illegal economic migrants are here because this country is a soft touch. I wonder how many ISIS nutjobs have made their way into this country and, at the moment, are enjoying a pleasant sauna and swim at taxpayer’s expense.
    Once established in this country – only one in nine is returned, they will soon begin to criticise everything about our culture and begin to impose yet more of their religion. Our government, of course, will go down on one knee. The lefties responsible for articles like these will celebrate.

  42. Jack

    Another one who hates his own country. These muslims were killing each other as they’ve been doing for centuries We went in to help. The fact that when we leave these people cannot govern themselves is their fault, not ours. In Libya we created the conditions for them to form a government and live peacefully but they couldn’t. Again that is their fault not the Wests.
    You spout left wing rhetoric with all it’s awful self-righteous, pompous importance.
    Try going to ISIS and talking this bulls***t and see their reaction. They won’t sit down with you and negotiate. Some times you have to fight. That is a lesson you have yet to learn. Maybe one dy you will have matured enough to appreciate the values of the country you live in

  43. Melody Collis

    well get rid of all the romanian gypsies, after all there is no war in romania IS THERE, so why are they hear,
    they get nice homes benefits, they just sit on there back sides all day doing nothing, moaning that there benefits are not enough to live on, yet they have not paid any taxes, get rid of them all, and let the syrians come hear, after all there lives are in danger, the romanians are not, wake up england help those, who desperately need help, NOT SCROUNGERS, who just come hear for hand-out

  44. r jones

    “Another one who hates his own country” – yawn. Another ad hominem attack with no substance.

    “Try going to ISIS” – If we hadn’t spent decades installing, then violently deposing dictators in the region, maybe there wouldn’t BE an ISIS.

    Oil would be more expensive, but we have to pay the REAL price, one way or another – a concept which I fear you will never mature enough to appreciate. It’s much easier to wallow in a tough-guy violent fantasy of shock and awe, isn’t it? In that respect, you’re not that different from ISIS.

  45. Jack

    What liberal pacifists like you don’t understand is that, unpleasant as it might be, there comes a time when you have to fight for your freedoms. If our fathers had not fought the Nazis we’d all be talking German. Right wing Salafism is endemic in the Muslim world and has existed well before any western intervention. Cut the ridiculous personal abuse, grow up and go get yourself an education.

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