Brown under fire for giving false figures
Published 01/04/2010 | 05:00
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was facing embarrassment last night after being condemned by the British statistics watchdog for quoting false figures over the number of foreigners going to Britain.
The prime minister was rebuked hours after he used a major speech to try to take the heat out of immigration as a general-election issue by arguing that the number of new arrivals was falling sharply.
Michael Scholar, chairman of the UK Statistics Authority, warned that Mr Brown had used inaccurate information in an earlier Downing Street podcast about immigration levels.
The prime minister claimed in the podcast that net inward migration fell from 237,000 in 2007 to 147,000 last year as evidence that the government had a grip on the issue.
But Mr Scholar said the 2009 figure was misleading as it was taken from a different set of data from the previous two years' statistics. He also said the correct number for 2007 should have been 233,000.
Mr Brown did not repeat the mistake yesterday, quoting the correct figures as he denied accusations that immigration was out of control. "There is only one conclusion from all the published data and it is this -- over this period net inward migration has fallen," he said.
"This does not mean immigration isn't an issue. It is. But we should not allow people to scaremonger with unsubstantiated claims about rising net inward migration today."
Chris Grayling, the shadow home secretary, said: "Gordon Brown is turning into a serial offender in misleading the British people in the run-up to the election. Britain should expect better from its prime minister." (© Independent News Service)