A campaign group said there were significant failings from news outlets following the Home Secretary's false claim that 'almost all' those involved in grooming gangs were British Pakistani men.

The false assertion was made in an article for the Mail on Sunday in April 2023. However, last weekend the news site finally retracted following a complaint by CfMM (Centre for Media Monitoring). 

The regulator Ipso forced the Mail on Sunday to issue an apology and correction to Suella Braverman’s piece after concluding the statement was false.

The retraction was tucked away in the pages of the newspaper. However, the Home Secretary’s article received significant national coverage, much of it not challenging her false claims, said the CfMM.

This, despite the fact that British Pakistani groups, researchers and more than a dozen organisations, including the NSPCC and Victim Support, wrote to the Home Secretary and Prime Minister to highlight their concern at the Home Secretary's remarks.

The CfMM report focusses specifically on how TV news outlets covered her false remarks.

The report found that 40% of the mainstream TV coverage (excluding GB News) did not provide context to the Home Secretary's remarks by referencing her own department's report on the topic, which contradicted her claims.

Sky News challenged the Home Secretary more than BBC News.

GB News focussed on the issue more than any other news outlet (59 clips vs. 25 from all other news outlets), provided significantly less context (only 7% referenced the Home Office report on the topic) and promoted a number of problematic tropes on the topic.

The usage of ‘Pakistani Muslim’ alongside grooming was unchallenged across all news channels.

The report shared a set of recommendations and asks for 'consistenty in the terminology used to describe child sex abuse offenders including avoiding the use of terms such as 'grooming gangs’ that have no legal basis and have become highly racialised'.

The report asks for to 'challenge those in authority with evidence live-on-air',  'provide context for the audience, 'avoid prejudicial and unevidenced claims' and ensure a diversity of guests are interviewed.

There were also calls to ensure 'responsible and nuanced reporting of child sexual abuse that recognises the scale, complexity and diversity of the issue.'

The Centre for Media Monitoring said: "The issue of child sexual abuse by groups of men, is a serious one, and one that rightly creates disgust and significant concern amongst the public.

"It is therefore vital that news reporting, especially on regulated TV channels, is done responsibly and consistently, avoiding the significant failings we have highlighted here. We hope this report is taken seriously and the recommendations adopted by all TV news outlets, to avoid these failures in the future."

The Centre for Media Monitoring is a project under the Muslim Council of Britain's Charitable Foundation