TACT response to the IPSO decision to find against the Times for the child placed with a Muslim foster family story

Author: TACT Communications

TACT is very pleased that IPSO (Independent Press Standards Organisation) has found against The Times for their egregious story about a child placed with a Muslim foster family.

Almost nothing about this story was true. The child placed was not wholly of Christian heritage, the child also had Muslim heritage. The foster carers could speak English fluently and the child was well settled with both foster families she stayed with. The Times also wholly misrepresented the actions and intent of Tower Hamlets Council. In truth Tower Hamlets acted wholly in the best interests of the child throughout the process, which is more than can be said for The Times.

What makes this worse is that The Times went ahead and published, knowing full well that the story was unreliable and probably largely false. The journalist, Andrew Norfolk, called TACT’s CEO – Andy Elvin,  before he published to check some issues. Andy told him that it was not possible that the foster carers spoke no English and that basing a story on the testimony of one party in a care proceedings was extremely risky. Care proceedings are traumatic, fraught and highly emotional, especially for birth families. Often, in this heightened emotional situation, people may say or claim things that otherwise, or on reflection, they would not say. Our CEO strongly advised Andrew Norfolk not to publish.

The Times standard of journalism was exceptionally poor on this occasion and no real effort was made to verify the facts or the context. It is very hard to see any justification for The Times publishing this story. The impression that could possibly be left is that the driving force for the piece was Islamophobia.

Thankfully there are many selfless and tolerant people in the UK who are Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Sikh and of no faith; these people are foster carers. Unlike Journalists and Editors at The Times foster carers seek to help vulnerable children recover from trauma and go on to lead successful adult lives. Foster Carers do not victimise, stigmatise or try to cement division and hatred, they seek to heal and help.