The Mail and the Express yesterday had articles about an official list of the top ten benefits fraudsters in the country which they say was published by the government.
Just one little problem with it.
The list doesn’t seem to exist.
There doesn’t seem to be any official list of top ten benefits fraudsters published by the government.
There are no links in either the Mail or the Express articles to any government website where the official list is published. No list on the DWP website and no mention of it on the official DWP press office Twitter feed either.
The Mail specifically wrote that Iain Duncan Smith had decided to publish the list – but there is no mention of it on his website or anywhere else.
In fact the only sources for any official list are – the Mail and the Express articles themselves.
OK – so the Mail and the Express lied about the government publishing a list and have made up their own list of top ten benefit fraudsters and tried to pass it off as official civil service information.
But there’s another problem. According to the articles, the top benefit fraudster in the UK was someone called Sly Malik – who the Mail and the Express say fraudulently got over a million pounds in benefits.
However, a quick check of the court case against Mr Malik reveals the Mail’s top fraudster had in fact defrauded the system of £38,952 – a hefty sum it’s true – but much much less than the million the Mail and the Express claim he had defrauded.
I suppose a front page exclusive showing the top ten benefits fraudsters in the country stole little more than 100,000 quid between them wouldn’t be so headline catching, would it?
Of course, now that the government seems to have outsourced civil service policy announcements to tabloid newspapers, the truth will be the first casualty.