Charities fear newspaper blog could lead to discrimination
PCC to investigate Daily Mail’s homelessness claims
The Press Complaints Commission has launched an investigation into an article on the Daily Mail website that suggested homelessness hostels are ‘packed full of immigrants’.
The PCC’s decision was a result of five complaints, one of which was from a homelessness charity boss who said that novelist and ex-army officer Allan Mallinson’s claims on the national newspaper’s website last month could lead to racial discrimination. Mr Mallinson suggested homelessness hostels were ‘full of Somalis and Poles’ and ex-servicemen were ‘turned away’.
‘How [have we] arrived at a situation where our charities are being overwhelmed by immigrant need to the exclusion of our own, as in the case of Stephen [a homeless man featured in the blog who had been in the Royal Artillery for 17 years]?’, the article asked.
The PCC confirmed it received the complaints on grounds of ‘accuracy’ and ‘discrimination’ - articles 1 and 12 of the editors’ code of practice.
Forty homelessness organisations signed a letter to Daily Mail Online refuting the blog’s claims. The blog stated 25 per cent of London’s rough sleepers had a services background. Homelessness charity Broadway’s government endorsed latest statistics put this figure at 4 per cent.
‘To imply that veterans are being denied help because hostels are “overwhelmed by immigrant need” is misleading,’ the letter stated.
One of the signees, Jeremy Swain, chief executive of homelessness charity Thames Reach and Inside Housing columnist, also wrote to the PCC stating the blog was ‘wholly inaccurate’ and ‘likely to lead to racial discrimination’. Mr Swain also said it was an ‘urban myth’ that veterans are unable to claim benefit, as the blog stated.
Daily Mail Online did not comment.