Regular readers will recall the tale of a mum who had claimed her son was ordered off a bus, apparently by a 'Polish or East European' driver, because he was wearing an 'offensive' England shirt. It was a local news story which went straight into the eager mitts of the national papers, including the Mail, chiming as it did with an existing mythology about patriotic England imagery supposedly being banned by the PC Brigade. This story had the bonus of apparently involving an immigrant as well, so it was a real win-win.
The bus company concerned released a statement casting doubt on the story a little while ago. Now they have decided there is no truth in the allegations. To be fair to the (Daily Mail-owned, but let's not hold that against them) local paper which carried the original story, they have prominently covered the follow-up here:
A MOTHER who claimed her two-year-old was ordered off a bus for wearing an England shirt has been branded a liar.
Sam Fardon, of Trent Vale, had claimed an Eastern European driver for First Bus had described her son Dylan Hall's shirt as "offensive" when they tried to board the 34A service from Newcastle Bus Station to Chesterton.
The 27-year-old said it was only when other passengers intervened that she was allowed on the vehicle.
But a First investigation has found nothing to back up her claims.
Not only that, though - and you can read the lengths to which the company went to in order to see if the claims were true - but here is the really crucial detail, in my opinion:
Miss Fardon has now withdrawn her complaint. She said today: "I have continued to use the buses."
The complaint has been withdrawn. Case closed.
If you pop over to the Mail website, you can still find the original story, though:
We now know that headline to be almost certainly false - perhaps a bit of checking could have saved an awful lot of blushes all round. Fair play to the local paper for doing the decent thing and reporting on the new information now that it's come to light, but you have to wonder whether the story sounded so good, and chimed in so nicely with existing mythology, that it couldn't be turned down by the likes of the Mail - whether there was any substance in it or not, or rather, regardless of whether there was any substance in it or not.
What I hope, by the way, is that this doesn't get twisted into being an attack on the woman in question, as I don't really go in for that kind of thing at all. People make mistakes and do daft things. It's finished now, and as long as the new information that's come to light is reported as prominently as the original tale, then there's no need for recriminations.
But how many people will find out about this new information? And how many will still think there's some truth to the 'foreign bus driver kicked the toddler off the bus' tale, because it's what they want to hear? Can we really do anything about it, trying to boost the profile of the competing information? Who knows. I hope we can.