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'Daily Mail' Mick Philpott 'Welfare UK' front page sparks outrage

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The Daily Mail has sparked outrage today with its front page, which appears to blame the killing of six children on the welfare state.

The right-of-centre newspaper, which has frequently campaigned against what it sees as the generosity of the UK's welfare system, today (April 3) splashed with the conviction of Mick Philpott - who killed six of his own children in a house fire - using the headline 'Vile product of Welfare UK'.

Daily Mail Welfare UK cover

Daily Mail front cover: April 3, 2013



The first paragraph of the article by Andy Dolan and Paul Bentley - which was later integrated with another article on Philpott - started: "He treated his 17 sons and daughters like cash cows - generating a staggering benefits income of £60,000 a year."

Its third paragraph described Philpott - who together with his wife Mairead and friend Paul Mosley was convicted of manslaughter at Nottingham Crown Court yesterday - as a "drug-taking layabout, who embodies everything that is wrong with the welfare state".

The newspaper also features a column by AN Wilson, which claims that Philpott's life "shows the pervasiveness of evil born out of welfare dependency".

Wilson wrote that in addition to exposing the "sheer nastiness" of the convicted, the trial "lifted the lid on the bleak and often grotesque world of the welfare benefit scroungers - of whom there are not dozens, not hundreds, but tens of thousands in our country".

The front page sparked an angry response from those on the Mail's own comment section, as well as on Twitter, Facebook and in the mainstream media.

"Regardless of the parent's behaviour, it is morally repugnant to use the deaths of those poor children to make a political point. Anyone jumping on this bandwagon should be ashamed," wrote one reader.

"Irresponsible and Inflammatory sensationalist headlines," wrote another. "To assume that this evil act is a product of a broken welfare state is deeply offensive to people who, through no fault of their own, rely upon the state for their survival.

"If this propaganda were to be believed then I would be right to assume that people who are wealthy do not commit acts of fraud, or violence towards others? Thought so. This article's intentions are clear, to incite hatred and to assist the government in creating social underclass."



Private Eye's Tom Jamieson wrote on Twitter: "Mick Philpott no more sums up people on welfare than Lord Lucan does the wealthy. Those poor dead children. Shame on you Daily Mail."

Writer and columnist for The Independent Owen Jones said: "The utter shameless, grotesque, vile mentality of a 'newspaper' that uses the killing of 6 kids for political purposes and to inflame hatred."

The Mirror's David McDonnell added: "Daily Mail in league of its own by politicising human tragedy of the six dead Philpott children into headline: 'Vile Product Of Welfare UK'."

Former cabinet minister John Prescott said: "Why are people shocked by the Daily Mail? It's the Daily Mail They know outrage gives them more publicity. Just ignore them.

"If outraged by the Daily Mail, tell the Chair of the PCC's Code of Practise Committee. He's Paul Dacre. Editor of the Daily Mail."

Some on social media drew parallels between the Daily Mail's coverage of Philpott's crimes with its reports on businessman Christopher Foster's killing of his family in 2008 in a shooting and arson attack.

A petition has been set up on the change.org website calling for "sanction in law for this offensive headline" and a boycott of the Daily Mail.

Some have defended the Daily Mail splash, with Daily Telegraph columnist Dan Hodges arguing that the headline, while "wrong", was not "grotesque".

Hodges also criticised what he described as the "similarly frenzied, emotive and immature language being deployed by welfare's self-styled defenders".

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