First off, apologies for the lack of blogging, but I've been working a 60 hour week, coupled with a two day conference and other stuff (including being contacted a lot about Nightjack – about which I appeared on Channel 4 news, but which I, myself, missed.)


I was woken from my sleep by a text message from a friend telling me that I was in the News of the World. As far as I know the publishers hadn't planned anything with them so it was a bit of a surprise.

He sent me this picture of the article.


I was somewhat perturbed. Actually I was flaming furious. You see, despite the mistakes, it also implies other things.

For comparison you can read the original post here.

Firstly, I didn't say anything, I wrote it. Over three years ago. Hardly news. I'm also not based at the Royal London hospital – we have these things we call ambulance stations. And they get the name of the book wrong. So far not exactly quality reporting.

(And why I do have more than one blog, I think they are mixing up 'blogs' and 'posts', which while annoying is perhaps a little petty to bring up)

The ambulance arrived and took the baby to hospital (sorry 'brain bug tot'), the baby didn't travel in the neighbour's car at all.

The implication is that the baby definitely had meningitis (which it didn't) where in the actual article I try to show that it isn't meningitis. Also things have changed for the better and FRUs are waiting on scene for long times a lot less often than when I did it.

I would guess that the News of the World got hold of a copy of my book – reached page four (where this story is printed) and got no further because they smelled something they could get outraged about. Rather than, say, doing some work and seeing how busy the ambulances were that day (three years ago).

While I've never expected quality journalism from the redtops, it still surprised me how easily they twisted the facts to say what they wanted to say, while getting even the basics wrong.

The sad thing is that this sort of coverage will probably make my bosses look a little less favourably upon me, even though I had nothing to do with the paper printing it, or with putting their own spin on things.

18 thoughts on “Rebuttal”

  1. I smell a call to a solicitor coming up!Having said that I am not sure what much could be done about it. I suppose the media had to find a down side to your work at some point. Even if they did have to make it up.

  2. Sounds to me like someone had a quick flick through your book in a shop and skimmed that post then went to work and tried to remember all of it because it was a slow news day. I think some complaining may be in order.

  3. well, if i were you I'd complain to the press complaints commission, thats what they're there for.Its unbalanced and misleading both actionable by them.don't let the bastewards get u down!

  4. that is a truely disgraceful piece of journo filth. Surely the fact it is 3years ago is worth of a mention! along with the fact that the baby didn't have it.

  5. agree with storyguy. this practice of inaccuracy in 'journalism' needs to be dealt with before it gets out of hand. if one 'writer' can write such nonsense & get away with it, what's to stop half-dozen more from doing the same?

  6. Sounds like something that would happen over at Bad if only we could convince everyone to realise that what they read in not only “the red tops” but broadsheets as well may be bollocks and to lookout for references to where the get the “skim merchant”…sorry “author” got their information form, then the world would be a better place. I'm not talking a utopia on earth yet but at least a place which has a reduced atmosphere of fear, fear and more fear!

  7. So the “news story” was a years old case, they wrote the facts wrong and invented the bits they didn't research … ahh I remember now why I havn't bought a newspaper for 20 years

  8. that's newsapers for you. I have never ever found them capable of reporting the simplest facts accurately; what is worrying is the articles where I don't have first-hand knowledge so am at risk of taking in complain by all means, Tom, but I bet you just get fobbed off as usual. my commiserations.

  9. Tom, Tom, Tom…Did you just use the words “quality” and “journalism” in the same sentence?

    You should know better than that, my friend. Those two terms have been mutually incompatible since you and I were children.

  10. It is with profound regret, that once again the redtops have excelled themselves in relating an article to the poulace devoid of any, substance, or accuracy for the purposes of selling papers. Indeed, the alarmist nature of the 'reporting' is typical of the moral turpitude we've come to associate with the press.They have, however, introduced a small element of truth in the piece by stating that friends were summoned to evacuate the infant to hospital, though in actuality the baby was transported by ambulance, and indeed it was after a substantial delay.

    Factually, the piece, compared and contrasted with your account appears to be out of context. Indeed, it omits your clear observations that though there was a worrying rash, the signs and symptoms were not indicative of a serious event as related in the article, given the alert disposition of the infant, and other observations.

    A previous post regarding the heads of complaint open to you, should you wish to send the matter up for adjudication, is entirely correct, as there does appear to be a distortion of the facts.

    Given the fact that the event occured some years ago would indicate, that a responsible 'journalist' with a duty to test the veracity of the article, and give a balanced view, ought to have made some effort to contact you. This is clearly not the case. Ergo, I would agree that it is, at best lazy, and incompetent reporting, or at worst, a slur on the LAS and your professional ability.

    Should you elect to seek an adjudication based on the heads previously posted, your strict liability in relation to patient confidentiality must be strictly observed. I would urge you to consider carefully, that it is likely that were the adjudication to go in your favour, the remedy would be an obscure retraction hidden away in the advertisements.

    Never-the-less, it is out of context, inaccurate and damaging, and the basis of a valid complaint, as the real story is an increased demand on resources which has to be balanced within finite budget constraints.

  11. I always get NotW and the Sunday Sport mixed up, then I have to remind myself: SS is the one that's *amusingly* bollocks. What a waste of dead trees the NotW is.

  12. Well my dear Tom, seems you have ignited the curiosity of some ignoramus who operates under the guise of a reporter. My word, we could all do that, couldnt we. Imagine following around, armed with a reporters notebook and sharp pencil, some of those equally sharp Ministers and Civil Servants. The imagination runs riot.The most I can add to the comments posted thus far is that, in my view, the most value added, target driven, effective and efficient use of the article in question would be to cut it up into small square pieces, pierce a hole in the top left hand corner and thread said squares onto some string. Place said strung squares by the lavatory cistern in your home and use at will for wiping your arse. I am sure that the thought of a little printers debris will in no way affect the sheer delight of having wiped your arse with the words of a gutter crawling parasitic life form. What a shame that they could never be forced to actually eat their own words?

  13. “Of course” – it would be so much 'better' for Patients if NO solo-responders were used, and they were left totally without support until a fully crewed (able to transport) Ambulance could be sent?

  14. It is indeed worth referring it to the Press Complaints Commission and you could probably take them to court for some form of damages over the situation (as could LAS).Oliver

  15. They also massively mis-quoted you. You said:”The baby had the right sort of rash (although it was only on the back of the knee, and nowhere else. I checked). It had a temperature, but was one of the happiest, most alert children Ive ever had the pleasure of meeting. It just didnt seem as if it had meningitis, and trust me, Ive seen a fair bit of children and adults with meningitis to have a pretty good idea.Then, like my previous post, I was left waiting for an ambulance.I think it was around 45 minutes.There was no way I was going to be able to transport the patient in my car. Its just not equipped to carry such a small child.So the family ended up phoning a friend to take them to the hospital. The ambulance turned up just as they were getting into their friends car.”They quoted: “The baby had the right sort of rash. But my car wasn't equiped to carry such a small child so the family phoned a friend.”Not even ellipsis used, which wouldn't even really suffice when SO MUCH has been omitted. If they were paraphrasing, then they cannot use quotation marks. Basic basic rules of reporting. I do hope you complained to the PCC, and would like to hear what came of it!

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