The real life impact of being targeted by a Sun journalist as a ‘benefit cheat’

The Sun’s announcement that it is targeting benefit cheats has led to at least one very nasty experience for a 68-year-old former dustman.

Elaine Milton writes movingly about her father’s injury, countless operations, and recent discovery of bowls, “with the support of his doctor”. Then:

“You can imagine how I felt when I heard that a Sun journalist and photographer had been knocking on his door, taking his picture, telling him that they were doing a story on benefit cheats.

“While they were not at liberty to discuss why they had my dad’s name, this appears to follow a malicious complaint made to the DWP scroungers hotline last year suggesting that my dad was a faker, which was fully investigated (causing a huge amount of upset and distress) and correctly found to be a completely false accusation. I feel rather sorry for whoever the person who made this report is, really, as they are one of the many in this country who have been completely suckered in by the Government and media’s anti-disabled people rhetoric, and clearly have no empathy or any understanding that being disabled doesn’t necessarily mean you are in a wheelchair or can’t do a single thing for yourself. There but for the grace of God, some might say.

“I don’t feel sorry for journalists, for this Frankie Cary who turned up on my dad’s doorstep tonight, because they should be educated enough and intelligent enough to understand what they are doing and the harm they are causing. I am sure that they are not too dense to appreciate the damage they can cause and the actual truth behind the lies and false statistics that they peddle to turn the country in on itself.”

Frankie Carey has responded as follows:

“Sun had a tip off that Mr Mumford was wrongly claiming benefits, they asked us to speak to him to check it out, we did and it was realised he was legitimate and it is therefore not a story”

Milton’s post is worth reading in full, as is Richard Murphy’s analysis of the newspaper’s decision to target benefit fraud, which costs the country £1bn per year, rather than tax fraud, which costs at least 15 times that – image below:

benefit fraud versus tax fraud chart
Benefit fraud versus tax fraud: image from Tax Research UK