In one of its last decisions before being abolished, the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) has ruled that a newspaper piece on immigration by Prime Minister David Cameron was inaccurate.
In a guest column in July’s Daily Telegraph, Cameron wrote: “While most new jobs used to go to foreign workers, in the past year more than three quarters have gone to British workers.”
This sparked a complaint from Jonathan Portes, Director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, who asked the PCC to rule if this was an inaccuracy in breach of Clause 1 of the Editors’ Code of Practice.
The PCC noted that the chair of the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) had already stated publicly that it was wrong to describe net change in employment as “new jobs” and that “the net change in the number of people in employment is not the same as the numbers who move into employment.”
Speaking to The Drum, Portes said he was “very glad the PCC have confirmed the PM was significantly mistaken”, adding that he had been writing about the abuse of this particular statistic for the last three years. The complainant also said that he hoped that the ruling would mean that politicians and newspapers would be reminded to report statistics on immigration accurately. “I hope they have learned their lesson,” he said.
The PCC ruled that the Telegraph should publish a postscript to the online version of the piece stating: “We would like to make clear that the Office of National Statistics data on which this was based track net changes in employment, not ‘new’ jobs. The data show that British nationals account for more than three quarters of the growth in employment over this period.”
The Drum approached Downing Street for comment but had not received a reply at the time of publication.