Thames Reach, Homeless Link and concerned individuals have been
successful in getting the Daily Mail to back down over an article on
homelessness which was both inaccurate and potentially prejudicial and in
danger of encouraging racial discrimination.
Following complaints to the Press Complain Commission, the
newspaper accepted a number of points which contradicted the article which
appeared in July 2012 and claimed that army veterans were turned away from
homeless shelters packed with immigrants.
The newspaper amended its article to indicate that although
Somalis and Poles are accommodated in some shelters, they are not in the
It accepted that accommodation in hostels was not free and that a
homeless person must be in receipt of benefits, which have been linked to
national insurance payments in the past.
It accepted that its figure of 25% of homeless people being former
servicemen had come from a report issue in the 1990s and that that the British
Legion had now put the figure at 6%.
It also accepted that it had been incorrect to state that benefits
could not be claimed without an address, issuing a clarification to reflect
Jeremy Swain, Thames Reach Chief Executive, said: “This
appallingly inaccurate article claimed that a typical homeless hostel resident
was a person not born in this country who had been prioritised for a hostel
space at the expense of former serviceman. In fact the nationalities named in
the article, Somalis and Poles, make up a tiny minority of the hostel
population and the figure given for the number of ex-services personnel
sleeping rough on the street was grossly inflated.
“This is the kind of irresponsible reporting that can seriously
undermine community relations and lead to the victimisation of minority groups
in this country. I am delighted that the Mail has acknowledged that the article
was fundamentally flawed and unconditionally surrendered on all the points we
raised, and I thank all those people who joined with us in expressing revulsion
at gutter journalism of this type.”