UPDATED 5,45pm: There’s one thing which Gavin Barwell, no longer the MP for the Whitgift Foundation, may do with the right-wing Daily Mail which he has never been able to do to this website: sue them.
The Conservative MP for Croydon Central who was returned to parliament earlier this month with a massive 165-vote majority has been reported by Mail Online, the newspaper’s interweb operation, as having his Wikipedia profile altered before the election to make him more electable. So far, so what…
But the Mail‘s website reported: “More than a dozen MPs’ entries were edited from computers traced back to Parliament in the run-up to May 7, including details of Conservative Gavin Barwell’s arrest…”
Now either Inside Croydon has missed something very significant in gaffe-prone Gav’s career, or the nice people at Derry Street might soon be getting a letter on behalf of Barwell from Messrs Sue, Grabbit and Runne.
The article appeared this morning under the catchy headline: “Expenses claims and a sex scandal wiped from MPs’ Wikipedia pages by computer users inside Parliament before election”. The click-bait johnnies (there’s a ruder word which we shan’t use on a family-orientated website such as Inside Croydon) who run the Mail‘s website always like to include as many “hot” words – like “sex” and “scandal” – to drive as many eyeballs to their site as possible.
This report is far from original journalism (as is acknowledged down the piece). The Mail Online’s report is derived from a piece in today’s Daily Torygraph. The Torygraph makes no mention whatsoever of any arrest for Barwell. So someone at Mail Online has written-in that “arrest” line into the piece, and somehow confused the very important Comptroller of the Royal Household with someone else.
The Mail Online report was first published under the byline of “Ollie Gillman for MailOnline” at 9.20am – so just enough time for the first news desk shift of the day to cut and paste some of the best stories of the day from other newspaper websites which the Mail‘s own reporters had missed, re-jig the intro and stick a potentially libellous error in the second paragraph.
The story was updated at 12.13pm without altering the reference to the Barwell “arrest”, and it was still included on the report at 4pm this afternoon. Not until 4.45pm was the error corrected, with Barwell’s name replaced with that of Craig Whittaker.
You can check it out for yourself here. Or view how the website had made the error here:
No where else in the story is the reference to an arrest of Barwell explained. That’s possibly because it has not happened. We checked with Gav’s office (which before the election had six state-funded staff, plus the MP himself), and just before 6pm they got back to us on this important matter of Barwell’s reputation: “Error by Mail Online which has now been corrected.”
The point of the report is that MPs massage their online presence to ensure that they get re-elected.
“Expense claims and a Westminster sex scandal were deleted from MPs’ Wikipedia pages by computers inside Parliament before the election, The Telegraph has found.” The Torygraph‘s top team of investigative reporters are apparently working on follow-ups about the toilet habits of bears and the dark religious secret of the Pope.
“Details of a police arrest, electoral fraud allegation and the use of ‘chauffeur-driven cars’ were also been wiped by people inside the Commons,” the original newspaper report continued.
“The revelation will raise suspicion MPs or their political parties deliberately hid information from the public online to make candidates appear more electable to voters.”
No shit Sherlock.
Inside Croydon‘s loyal reader will be very aware that some elements of this practice is exactly what Barwell had been doing – and usually with the help of a full-time, state-funded assistant based at the House of Commons.
But as far as Inside Croydon can establish, Barwell has never been arrested, as the Mail Online is reporting today.
Barwell was re-elected with the support of
29 per cent
of the electorate of Croydon Central. He is indeed notorious for having had his Wikipedia entry edited from a computer within the House of Commons. As the Torygraph and the Mail’s website both managed to report, “…Barwell’s biography has a local newspaper’s criticism of his ‘persistent attempts at headline-grabbing’ deleted”.
The expunged sentence was re-instated to Barwell’s Wiki-profile earlier this year after he’d been publicly embarrassed by the changes.
Though this was not before Barwell’s gobby fac totum, and Tory councillor, Mario Creatura, had let the cat out of the bag by admitting,“Gavin’s not the most technically minded person. He generally has no idea. He trusts me to do whatever.”
This lapse may be the sort of thing which saw Barwell overlooked in Prime Minister David Cameron’s government reshuffle, seeing the loyalist Croydon MP given the “very important” job (according to Creatura) of being an usher at Royal garden parties.
But it’s hardly an offence worthy of arrest.
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