Three mainstream media outlets have falsely reported that a gay paramedic was refused entry into a Manchester mosque to treat a heart attack patient.
The Daily Express, The Daily Star and talkRADIO all ran with the story last week after a caller called “Tom” told talkRADIO that he had been refused entry into a mosque because of his appearance.
“Tom” went onto allege that he had been sent death threats by Muslims at work, been threatened with decapitation in the streets of Oldham, and that he felt scared going into “Muslim areas” without police protection.
But North West Ambulance Service have confirmed that no such person works for them and when talkRADIO tried to get back in touch with “Tom” he didn’t return their calls.
TalkRADIO gave “Tom” almost 17 minutes of airtime to recount his story last Friday which was part of a discussion about the Batley Grammar School controversy.
The Centre for Media Monitoring (which is part of the Muslim Council of Britain) says the Daily Star and Daily Express picked up on the story. The Daily Express has removed reference to it from its website without acknowledging that it was false. But the Daily Star is still running with the piece.
TalkRADIO still has footage of the interview on its YouTube channel and last night the presenter of the show acknowledged that the station “could have been duped,” although he said he had taken the call “in good faith.”
Cristo said: “We couldn’t get in touch with him (Tom)…. Now that could be that we’ve been duped. It could be that his story was an absolute load of rubbish and that the trust I have when people call this show was broken and that my team were duped by that call. And we were I’m really sorry. It could also be …. perhaps he wasn’t using his real name and he doesn’t want to be contacted because of the fact that he was essentially telling us about an aspect of his work, and as you know I’m passionate about challenging homophobia, and that could be the reason why we couldn’t get in touch with him.”
The Centre for Media Monitoring said on Twitter: “Our investigation found this demonisation of mosques was made up. Basic checks would have prevented this dangerous lie being spread. North West Ambulance Service has confirmed that no one of the description of the caller works for them, none of the alleged allegations have been recorded and there are no agreements of the type claimed by the caller.
“The Daily Star published the story before verifying any of this information. The Daily Express has removed its online piece with no acknowledgment of the false story that was published and talkRADIO has also removed clips.”