Daily Telegraph apologises for attributing false statements to UKIP candidate, Richard Wilkins

Someone impersonating Richard Wilkins spoke to a Daily Telegraph journalist prior the election. The journalist failed to check the identity of the caller and ran an article attributing outlandish ‘quotes’ to him. OnTheWight has all of the detail …

Close up of telephone pad:

Just prior to the May 2013 local elections that took place across England, national broadsheet The Daily Telegraph ran an article titled, “Racism, Romanians and chemical castration: what UKIP candidates really believe”.

In the article, comments appeared that were attributed to Isle of Wight UKIP candidate Richard Wilkins.

Hoaxers words published
Rowena Mason, political correspondent at The Daily and Sunday Telegraph (You may know her name from her running the Godfrey Bloom ‘bongo bongo land‘ story – also a member of UKIP), reported that Mr Wilkins had made comments to her about Mick Philpott, the man found guilty of causing the death of six of his children.

It’s transpired that the ‘quotes’ that Rowena Mason printed didn’t come from Richard Wilkins at all, but someone pretending to be him.

After the article was published on 26th April, Mr Wilkins denied that he’d ever spoken to the journalist, tweeting the following day,

Conservative Party member tips off UKIP to hoax
OnTheWight followed up the story at the time and was told by a UKIP spokesperson,

“A complaint has been lodged with the PCC following the Telegraph inaccurately reporting comments as being from Mr Wilkins.

“Party sources received a tip off from within the Conservative Party telling us that someone called up the Daily Telegraph pretending to be Mr Wilkins.

“The matter was also given to the police.”

Representation of the People Act
The fact this occurred in the run up to an elections – less than a week, in this case – makes the whole situation all the more serious. There are special laws governing publishing untrue things about people standing for election.

Section 106 of the Representation of the People Act 1983 (law) specifically covers making false statements about candidates. It’s not clear if just Rowena Mason, or the hoaxer, or both could be prosecuted under this law.

Telegraph apologises to Richard Wilkins
Nearly four months and a PCC investigation later, The Telegraph have now amended their article, removing the comments falsely attributed to Mr Wilkins and added an update at the bottom of the report which states,

Update: when this article was first posted it made reference to remarks that Ukip candidate Richard Wilkins was said to have made about Mick Philpott, who killed six of his children in a house fire.

We were subsequently informed that these remarks were not made by by Mr Wilkins but by someone pretending to be him during a telephone call. We have therefore removed the remarks and apologise for Mr Wilkins for any distress caused by their publication.

These have only appeared on line – not, as yet, in the paper – and any damage to Richard Wilkins’ character has yet to be addressed.

How did it come about?
It seems the hoax occurred when the journalist openly tweeted her phone number to Mr Wilkins asking him to get in touch.

He ignored her request, but according to the UKIP spokesperson, someone else purporting to be Mr Wilkins called the Telegraph journalist and giving ‘quotes’ to the journalist as if they were him.

The accusation is that the journalist did not check her source was legitimate and went ahead and published the article. OnTheWight emailed the journalist – who has in the meantime moved from the Telegraph to the Guardian – but, as yet, she hasn’t responded.

Journalist “told police she’d lied”
Now with the Telegraph running the correction on their site, OnTheWight followed up to find out how things had progressed. A spokesperson for UKIP told OnTheWight this week,

“We have had the apology online from the Telegraph and now we are chasing a printed apology too. There were huge, nasty repercussions for Mr Wilkins following this lax journalism and we feel he should be compensated accordingly.

“We have forwarded this admission from the Telegraph to the police officer who was dealing with the case.

“We understand from the police that the journalist in question told the police that she had lied about recording the call. From the apology from the Telegraph we hope the police will be realising that her story to them and the Telegraph apology to us do not add up.

“Should the police not follow this up we will be following it up with the Hants Police and Crime Commissioner.”

IW Police provide no answers
OnTheWight has made seven requests to IW Police for details on this case, between 29th April 2013 and yesterday, but they have failed on all of those occasions to answer questions about this case.

Isle of Wight CID have informed UKIP that there is nothing they can do at this stage, but advise that if the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) find that Rowena Mason published the false statement whilst knowing it was false, they will be able to review the case.

We’ll let you know what the outcome of this PCC investigation is.

Further reading
The updated Telegraph article, complete with altered headline, is available “Racism and Romanians: what Ukip candidates really believe”.

Image: zigazou76 under CC BY 2.0

Friday, 23rd August, 2013 9:18pm


ShortURL: http://wig.ht/2b7m

Filed under: Election, Isle of Wight News, Online, Politics, Print, Top story

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21 Comments on "Daily Telegraph apologises for attributing false statements to UKIP candidate, Richard Wilkins"

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Any link with the allegations around the signing up of names for RW’s canditature at the May elections?

Don Smith

There will be more mud slinging in the future – They are all running scared of UKIP; and rightly so. Keep Britain British.

Better Red than Bled

Perhaps it was an imaginary nominator continuing to support him and letting us know what the unspoken policies of UKIP are.



I’m not letting my distaste of UKIP override my sense of fair play towards any individual; such as RW.


It does whiff a bit of a smear campaign doesn’t it?

Interesting comment from the UKIP spokesperson .. about the tip off coming from the Tories. I wonder if they meant that someone from within the Tories had made the call or just that they knew about it.

I’m no fan of UKIP’s policies, but agree about the need for fair play.


“…the tip off coming from the Tories.”

Mmmm! If true, one wonders who is trying to stitch up whom in the internecine battle for power in the local party? :-))

I’m vaguely recalling that at the time of the nominations hoo-ha, the tories were quite unnecessarily going public about allegations against local UKIP, rather than only going through ‘the proper chhannels’ to register their complaint. Just before the election. So I’m wondering whether this ‘tip-off’ might also have been in the same butter-wouldn’t-melt’ tradition. Perhaps the tories were contacting UKIP as a way of publicising the content… Read more »
Don Smith

UKIP policies – There is only one that I’m interested in. Keep Britain British.

I wonder just how many new members of the EU [2014] will Mr Cameron have on his lawn?

Better Red than Bled

Regardless of where the tip off came from, there was an offence under the law, committed at the time of the nomination. Will the facts surrounding that become public? Or, do the people at original fault hope that the dust raised by the thudding to earth of the half baked sound bites UKIP activists obscures the truth?

Paul K

If Hope Not Hate ever had any credibility, it’s long gone. Just a Labour party front doing its paymasters’ bidding.

Better Red than Bled

Don’t shoot the mesenger!

Hope not hate were reporting from the Evening Standard which is one of many newspapers that have reported on the tendency of UKIP’s leading figures to make public statements on mainstream events that fall into the “clown” category as identified by David Cameron.






Paul K

Get a life Nick. You’re not “fighting fascism”, unless you’re so disturbed you really think cutting immigration levels is like what Hitler did.

kevin Barclay-Jay

so, one of the many dozens of hilarious, comedy, bigoted nonsense that comes out of UKIP members mouths MAY have come from a source other than supposed.

Surprised they havent come up with the old favorite ‘my facebook page was hacked’ to excape blame.

Nothing these purple tories say is a surprise and their collapse in popularity no surprise either


But we can’t afford to start thinking it doesn’t really matter whether our enemies are treated lawfully or not.

kevin Barclay-Jay

-7…is that all…thought the pro UKIPPERS would have mustered much more than that….

but then I’m not surprised, the party is on the slide and will destroy itself from within

Paul K

Rowena Mason is either stupid to a degree that should finish her career, or she intentionally published defamatory lies about a political party in the run up to an election, which should finish her career and put her in the dock. Either way, if she’s still employed at the Guardian on Monday, Alan Rusbridger should be ashamed of himself.

Before criticising Rowena Mason completely out of hand it would be good to know what sub-editor etc checks the D.Tel applied to the authenticity or otherwise of her story. When we learn of the upright and open reporting that was produced by Wapping’s finest it would appear that the culture of a newspaper may over-ride individual consciences. Or do we just have another ‘rogue’ journalist who mislead… Read more »

Rowena Mason: pants ar dân!

Better Red than Bled
kevin Barclay-Jay

…and after the BBC exposure of Farages links to the National Front and his youth as a fascist/neo fascist (which stunk a bit of character assasination, but is all true) can any credence be given to this party and its plethora of ‘ out there’ candidates

Better Red than Bled

The gift that keeps on giving! Godfrey Bloom!