New Statesman has apologised for printing an “allegorical” story which suggested the quiet market town of Welshpool was a hotbed of facism.
Freelance contributor Jack Jameson claimed in a feature published last month that he had entered a pub in the town to find regulars making Nazi salutes as Deutschland Ã¼ber Alles played on the stereo. The piece was headlined “Weimar in Wales”.
The story was highlighted by Welshpool-based weekly newspaper the Powys County Times and followed up by BBC Wales.
In a front-page story the paper condemned the story as a “complete fabrication” and suggested the pub in question did not even exist.
New Statesman editor Peter Wilby initially stood by Jameson’s story in a comment to the County Times, saying: “I’ve got no reason not to believe him.”
But after Powys Police contacted the magazine to investigate the matter further Wilby decided the story did not hold water.
He said: “It was not made clear to us by Jameson either when he submitted the article or when the first complaints came in that it was allegorical.
“The first word he used was ‘apocryphal’. I said that means of doubtful authenticity, so he then switched to ‘allegorical’. As far as I’m concerned he can go through all the A’s in the dictionary but it’s still not true. He only admitted this when the police wrote to us and asked if they could have details so they could investigate this racist activity in the area.
We regret publication and we are apologising to the local people who were upset by it.”
As for Jameson’s future with the New Statesman, he said: “It’s his first and last contribution to the New Statesman. He won’t be contributing again.”
County Times editor Martin Wright said: “We are delighted New Statesman has accepted this article is not an accurate portrayal of life in Welshpool.
“The article appeared to suggest the town was a hotbed of British National Party and neo-Nazi activity – an image which is not only false but potentially very damaging to a town which relies heavily on tourism.
“I am pleased to be able to help put the record straight.”
By Dominic Ponsford