Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Chronicle "story" on sex attack false

Here we go again...our old friend Adam Courtney of the Fulham Chronicle was today busily broadcasting that there had been a sex attack reported in the Wormwood Scrubs area last night. There had been three in the last three months, he breathlessly reported on Twitter, making sure he used the #bushw12 hashtag to spread the news as widely as he could.

It was then posted by his colleague Rupert, eager not to be left out, who said there had been a multiple rape and that Police warnings had been issued for the local community to be careful. This was then re-tweeted by Adam Courtney and others, by now in a frenzy. Which is funny because having seen this I contacted the Police press office to see what was going on and they were mystified. None had been reported with no warnings having been issued.

And then came the below tweet from the same intrepid hack, but this time minus the hashtag for extra publicity. Because it was in fact a load of rubbish. A needless rumour which he bizarrely blamed on a "hockey club" and which he and his colleagues as professional journalists had contributed to spreading.

Sadly I do have cause to report on attacks in the Bush on here from time to time, and on every occasion I hear from some of you about how that makes you feel less secure. It's one of the reasons I tend to try and explain the other side of the police work in our neighbourhood that journalists don't report because it's not sensationalist - but nonetheless contributes to our safety as a community. That work, diligently done by people prepared to do a very dangerous job on our behalf at times, is not helped by this sort of thing from the Chronicle.

One day maybe they'll stop. All they needed to do was check with the local Police. But then facts can sometimes be boring.

So here's the boring truth - it was, apparently an email doing the rounds and which was entirely false. As a quick check from a professional journalist would have shown. Here's what Detective Chief Inspector Will Young from Hammersmith and Fulham Police has said this afternoon:
"I can fully understand that anyone receiving this email would be concerned about its contents and I am keen to reassure them that it is false information. I would actively encourage you to pass this reassurance onto anyone who you know may have received the email or have forwarded it on in good faith.

"Whilst there is no credence to this information I do take this opportunity to remind the public to take general safety precautions when they are out and beware of their surroundings when going about their daily lives."
 Let that be an end to rumour-mongering, eh?

1730 UPDATE - The Fulham Chronicle are now in damage limitation mode rowing backwards as fast as they can. Our friend Adam Courtney has taken to Twitter again to claim that the police are actually really grateful to them, and they have posted this article online, of which the first paragraph says this:

"EMAIL rumours that two women were raped in Wormwood Scrubs Park last night were quickly dismissed by police in an attempt to dispel wide spread panic".

No mention is made in the rest of the article, strangely, about how the Chronicle's own journalists helped whip that panic up by putting rumours around that they hadnt checked, and certainly no mention of why the police issued the statement after I alerted their press office to what the Chronicle was up to. They must have run out of space.


  1. piss poor journalism - FFS you still gotta confirm a story before you tweet it.

    are you reading this @FulHamBushChron?

  2. Yet another fine days work by the paper. Can I suggest that they install a Bat Phone so that they can check the 'stories' they run with the police beforehand? Then again, what mileage could they gain by printing the truth without all the drama? None I would imagine.


  3. Where are the H and F Parks Constabulary, Do they exist?

  4. So much for the bloody Leveson enquiry...

  5. "Comment is free, but facts are sacred"

  6. You can always tell the misogynists by their use of the word "female" instead of woman. Yes, Rupert, that's you.

  7. It's not easy you know being the only reporter finding stories for 24 local papers at once when the only equipment provided is an anglepoise, eyeshade & typewriter all mounted on the handlebars of my pushbike. Got to buy your my own pads & pencils too with this outfit. Have a heart mate, you try it, its no joke I can tell yer. At least people can recycle my product unlike yours Chris. You can't line a litter-tray with a blog can you mate.

  8. And my stuff doesnt get proof-read as you could see.