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Mail compensation claims

February 16, 2011

Yesterday, there was this:

Today, there is this:

The contempt the Mail displays for both claimants is clear, but do the headlines give a full and balanced picture?  The ‘nipple tweak’ story opens like this:

A gay waiter who had his nipples tweaked by a customer at a Michelin-starred restaurant has been awarded £21,500 after winning his discrimination claim.

Wow, £21,500 for a nipple tweak?  Are they having a laugh?  Well, yes, they are.  The claimant, Vincent Ma, was “subjected to sustained harassment,” according to the Mail’s own reporter.  The harrasment included two male managers simulating sex acts and pretending to kiss in front of him, telling him his nipples were sexy, and, of course, the customer who tweaked his nipple and asked if he liked it.  He was in his workplace, and should have been able to feel safe there.  I feel that, had this story not been about a gay man, it may have been treated with more seriousness.  In fact, it may have been ignored altogether.

Moving on to today’s ‘frogmarching’ story.

A boss who frogmarched a thieving employee to a police station after discovering he had stolen £845 from the company has been forced to pay the crook £13,000 for ‘humiliating him’.

Simple, see?  Except, reading further on, and ignoring the nineteen preceding paragraphs, the sequence of events described becomes much more frightening.  The claimant in this case, Mark Gilbert, says that he was bundled into the back of a van, tied up, beaten, and threatened with “various tools.”  He continues;

They showed me the sign and made me say it out loud three times.

‘They stopped at the pub, so they could march me through the streets. I wished the world would swallow me up, I hoped no one would recognise me.

‘It was almost a relief when I saw the police station was in sight rather than a remote field.’

The sign itself read, “THIEF I stoLe £845 AM ON MY WAY TO PoLice Station” [sic].  All this is a bit more than humiliation, and the Mail’s attempt to twist it into a ‘compensation gone mad’ story must, surely, be to give Richard Littlejohn and his fellow columnists some material to work with later in the week.

***Update*** (ht to The Media Blog)

The Daily Express have also covered the ‘frogmarched’ story here: Thief sues victim Their take on it doesn’t include any further information about the rather violent attack on Mark Gilbert, thus marking the Express out as even less balanced than the Mail.

The Express quotes Howard Thomas, who is, apparently, leader of the Common Sense party, as saying, “if I was in the situation he was in I would have done exactly the same thing – I think a lot of people would.”  What, bundled someone into the back of a van, tied them up, beaten them and threatened them with tools before marching them through the streets with a sign around their neck?  I doubt it.  The usual response to theft is to call the police, surely.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. February 28, 2011 12:45 pm

    I seem to remember reading that the thief said he tried to take the money because he hadn’t been paid – another detail that the tabloids managed to gloss over in order to tell their ‘compensation culture gawn mad’ story

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