The Sun is to journalism what syphilis is to good sexual health. And the latest proof is this deliberately misleading, scurrilous article. Entitled 'You're a Soft Touch' and with the webpage by-line "IMMIGRANT sponger living off handouts REFUSES full-time job" (caps theirs), The Sun tells us how Lithuanian Natalija Belova (pictured) has been in receipt of £14,500/year worth of benefit payments that, in the paper's words, "fund her love of designer clothes, jaunts to the Spanish sun and nightclubbing". Contributing in its inimitable manner to a fair and reasoned debate about migrant labour and social security, The Sun adds "Her astonishing benefits bonanza emerged as Britain braces itself for thousands more swarming here to join a gravy train they could only dream of in their homelands." Apparently there are 29 million Romanians and Bulgarians champing at the bit to up sticks and live a life of riley here in Britain.
Unfortunately for The Sun, their "exclusive" is a load of mouldy old bollocks.
I wonder how its loyal band of dwindling readers would have reacted to the story if they knew Ms Belova was in fact an actor? Surely The Sun wouldn't mention her chosen profession because it might have cast aspersions on her story? After all, we've been assured repeatedly over Leveson that the press can be trusted to regulate themselves. They are, apparently, mature enough to police their own journalistic standards to ensure stories only of the highest quality that are in the public interest appear. Clearly, pieces like this show they aren't anything of the sort.
But okay, let's pretend for a moment that Belova's profession does not matter and is incidental to the substance of the story. THE SUN'S ARTICLE IS STILL FULL OF LIES.
Belova "rakes in" over £1,000/month, yielding £14,508 every year. She receives £125/week from her job which, it is said, "boost her income to £400/week". Then to help explain things, a table is provided to demonstrate "how the weekly cash stacks up". It breaks down as Child Tax Credit (£56), Housing Benefit (£183), Child Benefit (£20) and Council Tax Benefit (£20) - a princely £279 every week.
But The Sun is deliberately lying. Belova does not receive an income (remember, they explicitly stated *income*) of £400 plus because she never sees two of the benefits payments. Until April, Housing Benefit is paid directly to her housing provider and the Council Tax payment bypasses her and goes to the relevant local authority. What is left, just £76, on top of her £125/week from her job gives her a *real* income before tax of £201 - about half of what The Sun's says she pockets. One wonders how a single mum with a small child can afford luxury holidays and designer clobber on such a modest income, especially when in a year she actually receives just £10,452.
That's right, *£10,452*.
Two minutes with a search engine digs up very little about Dulcie Pearce, the creature that wrote this despicable piece. No Twitter, no Facebook. Not much stuff of a personal nature at all. It's almost as if she'd done that deliberately. But it's worth noting this snippet from 2011 reporting her elevation in The Sun's hierarchy. The above isn't a hatchet job by a struggling hack forced to write the most appalling copy to earn a crust. It's by someone who is happy to advance their career on the back of lies told about some of the poorest, most vulnerable and marginalised people in Britain. What a cowardly, despicable way to make a living.