David Davis APOLOGY alert: Grauniad confirms slip-up

Yesterday I noted with some dismay a quote attributed to David Davis in The Guardian, suggesting that the Lib Dems had ‘funked’ putting up a candidate in today’s Haltemprice and Howden by-election – when in fact Mr Davis and Nick Clegg came to an agreement that the Lib Dems would not contest the seat before the former Tory shadow home secretary announced his resignation.

I’ve just received the following email from Martin Wainwright, the Guardian journalist who authored the piece:

Just to alert you asap to the fact that the quote attributed to David Davis by me about the LIb Dems ‘funking it’ was my fault – putting you in with Labour in a rush – and we are running a correction. Sorry, age and haste. The Correct quote is on the Guardian audio material on the website. The draft correction I’ve just sent reads:

In a piece on the Haltemprice and Howden by-election published on July 9, we wrongly quoted the Conservative candidate David Davis as saying that the Liberal Democrats had ‘funked’ the poll. He has always made it clear that he is grateful for the Liberal Democrats’ support for his views on the 42 day detention and related civil liberties issues. The mistake was made in transcription of the related audio report which carried his actual comments, and we apologise for that.

LDV likewise apologises to Mr Davis’s shade.

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This entry was posted in News and Parliamentary by-elections.
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27 Comments

  • Oh dear. Shouldn’t you have checked before coming out with all that stuff about “a bounder and a braggart”?

  • No, he shouldn’t have checked. What sort of world do we live in, when newspapers regularly just get it wrong and don’t seem to care about it. We should expect to be able to believe quotes in quality newspapers. The Grauniad are the only ones at fault here.

  • passing tory 10th Jul '08 - 11:09am

    Yeh, well, if you will insist on getting your news from the Guardian …

    Any paper that thinks that Toynbee and Ashley are enlightening commentators should be read with a bucket of salt handy.

  • Reasonable and responsible?

    Calling people all sorts of names on the basis of an unsubstantiated news report, without even checking? Surely you know you can’t believe everything you read in the papers?

  • anonymous (the other anonymous) 10th Jul '08 - 12:47pm

    If you read Stephen’s posting yesterday he said:

    “Which makes it all the more disappointing to see him stooping to indulge in petty partisan politics, at least according to this quote in today’s Guardian attributed to Mr Davis:”

    He makes it quite clear that his comments are dependant on the report being true. Stephen, you are in the clear on this one.

  • And presumably the “Bounder and Braggart” headline was just added by a subeditor.

  • bishop hill

    I find it strange you should say that, because you responded to Stephen’s article just over half an hour after it was posted with a post querying whether Davis really had said it, and pointing out that it wasn’t in the audio report.

    As the correction said, “He has always made it clear that he is grateful for the Liberal Democrats’ support for his views on the 42 day detention and related civil liberties issues”. It would have been a bizarre thing for Davis to say, particularly given the widespread belief that he announced his resignation only on the understanding that the Lib Dems _wouldn’t_ stand in the by election.

  • Hywel Morgan 10th Jul '08 - 2:28pm

    “No, he shouldn’t have checked.”

    You should always check that what a newspaper is reporting is actually correct before relying on it. At least one Lib Dem candidate I know of had to make a fairly hefty libel settlement after putting out a leaflet based on a report (in the Guardian as it happens) about his opponent.

    Whilst an opposing candidate might settle for an apology and correction from a national newspaper they might not be as accomodating towards a political opponent.

  • Cheltenham Robin 10th Jul '08 - 2:31pm

    Ok he’s not a Bounder and Braggart

    He is the Messiah

  • “A healthy scepticism of single – or indeed multiple – reports however isn’t the same as saying that you should never ever say something based on just the one newspaper report.”

    But if a single newspaper report claims someone has said something that completely contradicts the line they’ve previously maintained, it’s rather stupid to launch a volley of insults at the person on that basis, without checking your facts.

  • passing tory 10th Jul '08 - 5:06pm

    Because I don’t think “I am a worthless human being, the integrity of LDV is imperilled [sic] forever and Anonymous is right about absolutely everything” is on the cards, frankly.

    You disappoint me, Alix 🙂

    Mind you, it was a slightly suspicious quote given DDs very clear position on the LDs on this particular issue (and, to be fair, was picked up by some as such) so the headline might have been a bit OTT.

  • Alix

    All I’m saying is that Stephen Tall was unwise to attack David Davis on the basis of a single newspaper report which claimed he had said something that completely contradicted the line he has consistently followed for the last few weeks.

    Frankly, it astonishes me that you and others seem to find this controversial.

  • I prefer the Independent, myself. 🙂

  • Hywel Morgan 10th Jul '08 - 5:51pm

    “I suspect not”

    You’d be right 🙂 It doesn’t change what I said And repeating something you have read elsewhere isn’t a defence if it turns out to be incorrect. Doing just that cost a former candidate a bit of money and certainly derailed his election campaign.

    Do as I say not as I do applies 🙂 Especially so if you are making comments about someone’s character based on such reports.

  • Painfully Liberal 10th Jul '08 - 8:14pm

    I too grow increasingly bored with the Guardian. When Labour seemed electorally untouchable itt had its moments since its commentators wasn’t afraid to lay into the Government on occasion. Now though they seem to have thrown up the barricades and become a Labour mouthpiece. Most of the opinion pieces have lapsed into desparate attempts to be shocking and confrontational and Polly Toynbee is essentially self parody now.

    I’m not given to conspiracy theories so I don’t think they misquoted Davis on purpose, just as I’m prepared to accept that they weren’t deliberately misrepresenting the ramificiations of the voting system in the Mayoral election. Rather it’s typical laziness and an inability to think beyond the confines of old fashion politics – I reckon the reporter assumed that Davis said that because that’s what politicians say. I still browse the Guardian onlione but I certainly wouldn’t pay money for it. Frankly I wouldn’t mourn if they went down with the New Labour ship.

    As to Stephen Tall’s piece, I probably wouldn’t have been quite so strident without corroboration but that’s just me, I’m naturally a rather cautious. I certainly don’t think it was the cardinal sin that some people seem to be suggesting.

  • “I certainly don’t think it was the cardinal sin that some people seem to be suggesting.”

    Isn’t all this getting rather silly?

    No one has suggested it was a “cardinal sin”, still less than Stephen is “a worthless human being” or any of the other straw-man nonsense that Alix came out with.

    All that’s being said is that, considering how inconsistent the claim was with everything Davis had said before, the facts should have been checked before the name-calling started.

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