The Daily Mail has now begun publishing its page 2 ‘​Corrections and clarifica​tions’​ column, promised by the editor in his evidence to MPs considering changes to defamation law . Anyone hoping that the paper would show the slightest remorse for its attacks on claimants will be deeply disappointed, however, as its first correction of a benefits story demonstrates.

On 8th October the Mail on Sunday published an utterly misleading article claiming that “​families of more than 3,000 people suffering Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are believed to have been given vehicles under the £​1.5?billion-a-year Motability scheme”​

In fact, only 100 children with ADHD receive the higher rate of the mobility component and thus are eligible for the motability scheme. Moreover, on average, only 30% of claimants who are eligible actually join the motability scheme. This reduces the figure for children with ADHD whose families have a motability car to a probable number of 30, rather than the 3,000 claimed by the Mail. (See Full Facts for a complete dismantling of the Mail story.)

The utterly untrue figures were also quoted in a piece by Richard Littlejohn in the same paper, in which he claimed that it is only the Motability scheme which is keeping sellers of the BMW series 1 in business and that:

“​Even naughty schoolboys diagnosed with the make-believe disease ‘​Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder’​ (ADHD) are classified as disabled . . .

“​And, as a result, their parents are entitled to a car under the Motability Scheme. More than 3,000 families with children allegedly suffering from ADHD are swanning around in a new vehicle courtesy of the British taxpayer, no questions asked.

“​Just fill in a simple form and it’​s: ’​Ello, John, got a new motor?”​

Under pressure from Full Facts and organisations such as the Disability Benefits Consortium, the Mail published a correction on 16 October:

“​Last Sunday we said some 3,200 families of children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder were believed to have been given cars under the Motability scheme. In fact that total is the combined figure for two categories of recipients of the Higher Mobility component of the Disability Living Allowance and includes other behavioural disorders. Recipients choose whether or not to spend their allowance on a Motability car;​ generally about 30 per cent do so. Also, we described the qualification for the Lower Mobility component, rather than the Higher Mobility component required to claim a car, for which individuals must be declared virtually unable to walk.”​

This correction, however, gives no indication of the correct figure, which is 100 times smaller than the one claimed by the Mail. In addition, the correction did not appear in the online version of the paper until further pressure was applied by Full Facts and no correction has ever been made to the Littlejohn column at all.

And, perhaps most importantly, no apology has been made by the Mail for fomenting prejudice against sick and disabled claimants.

With the Mail willing only to make such pointless corrections and the Express having withdrawn entirely from the Press Complaints Commission in December 2010, claimants can only hope that that self-regulation by the press comes to an end sooner rather than later.


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