The UK Express reported that 12 million Turks would move to Britain if it stayed in the European Union and Turkey joined the EU. But, that wasn’t correct because the Express based its story on a flawed poll.
In a lengthy print and online clarification, the newspaper said its moving to Britain poll and May 22 front-page story were problematic because a key question was “open to interpretation and therefore cannot be used to make a definite prediction of numbers.” iMediaEthics has asked the Express how many complaints it received and what prompted the clarification. We also have asked UK press regulator the Independent Press Standards Organisation if it was involved in the clarification. We’ll update with any response.
The Express said it had Turkish research group Konda poll 2,685 people in person. The Express said it didn’t intend to deceive readers and its report was “in good faith.”
“Our honest intent was to accurately find the number of people who were genuinely likely to move to Britain,” the Express‘s clarification says. “However the number remains unknown.”
The problem was with this question: “If Turkey becomes a full member of the EU, and Britain remains in the EU, would you, or any members of your family, consider relocating to the UK?”
The poll found 15.8% saying yes, and the Express then applied that 15.8% figure to the entire Turkish population, which gave the Express the 12 million figure.
But the poll went wrong because that question wasn’t clear enough. How so? The Express explained:
“The poll did not ask respondents whether they were referring to themselves when they confirmed a consideration of moving to the UK, or to a family member.
“This omission meant that if, for example, two brothers were asked the question – and only one was planning to go to the UK – both would answer yes to the question as posed, whereas only one brother intended to travel. It also meant that if a respondent ‘s entire family was planning to head to the UK, he or she would answer ‘yes’ to the question as posed – but would only be counted as one person.
“This means that statistically the true number of those considering migrating cannot be accurately gauged from the question as asked. It could be lower than the 12 million stated or it could be higher.”
The Express noted it linked to the polling data behind its story, and reminded that its poll offered a hypothetical situation. “The article makes it explicit that it is talking about a hypothetical situation that could only arise IF the UK stays in the EU and IF Turkey accedes to the Union,” the Express said. “It states that the predicted migration would occur if, and only if, those conditions were met and Turks were allowed free access to the UK.”
Sunday Express clarification on '12m Turks say they'll come to UK' poll. Turns out question flawed & results wrong. pic.twitter.com/boMX8jtH2D
— Hacked Off (@hackinginquiry) June 20, 2016
UPDATED: 6/23/2016 2:26 PM EST
CORRECTION - June 13, 2016 6:58 PM EST
Due to an editing error, the first sentence incorrectly said people would move from Turkey to Britain if Britain left the EU. The poll asked if people would move if Britain would stay in EU.