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February 8, 2018

Housing minister accuses award-winning trade magazine of ‘peddling fake news’

By Freddy Mayhew

The Government’s housing minister has accused a respected trade magazine of “peddling fake news” after it ran a story about his absence from a top-level meeting on housing strategy in Downing Street.

Dominic Raab, who was appointed to the role in January, hit out at Inside Housing after it flagged his absence from the inaugural meeting of Theresa May’s Housing Implementation Task Force.

Raab was not among the ten ministers who attended the meeting on Tuesday and was instead in the House of Commons responding to an urgent question from Labour about fire safety in high-rise buildings.

He posted on Twitter: “Disappointing to see the respected Inside Housing peddling fake news, asking why I wasn’t at Housing Taskforce, yet reporting on the Commons Urgent Question on fire safety, which clashed and required me to respond in Parliament.”

Cabinet secretary Sajid Javid also took to Twitter saying the magazine owed Raab an apology for the report, which was featured in its morning round-up.

Inside Housing was named news provider of the year at the British Journalism Awards 2017 in December, largely due to its coverage of the Grenfell Tower fire and investigations into fire safety before the disaster last June that killed at least 71 people.

Inside Housing has recently published a series of articles criticising the role played by the government’s building regulations in allowing the Grenfell Tower fire to happen.

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The term “fake news” is widely considered to apply only to news content based on lies that misinform for political or commercial gain.

However, it is often used as a means to attack media outlets for unfavourable news coverage – most famously by US president Donald Trump who often labels critical US media “fake news”.

Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg this week warned politicians against branding the media “fake news”.

An Inside Housing spokesperson said: “It was not inaccurate to report that Raab did not attend the meeting, nor was it improper to simply pose the question why in our morning news round-up.

“While we’re happy to clarify that the minister was required to be in Parliament, we are generally uncomfortable with the use of the phrase ‘fake news’ by a Government minister to attack news articles they do not like.”

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