BBC News, Feb. 13
A journalist for the New Statesman magazine who caused a row by claiming to have witnessed a gathering of neo-Nazis in a mid Wales bar has admitted the pub does not exist.
Freelance journalist Jack Jameson, who wrote the article headlined Weimar in Wales, told BBC Wales it was a composite of many pubs and that it was not meant to be taken as a news story but rather as “an allegory.”
Peter Wilby, the magazine’s editor who had initially stood by the story, said on Friday: “I have to say I’m very sorry. Clearly, I’m not very happy about it.”
The admission came after police were called in to investigate the magazine’s claim that an unnamed mid Wales pub-about 15 miles from the home of British National Party leader Nick Griffin-was a favourite with supporters of the far-right group.
The freelance writer described how his car broke down in Welshpool and he wandered into a pub where German marching songs were being played and BNP supporters gave Nazi salutes to the strains of Deutschland Über Alles.
Dyfed-Powys Police wrote to its editor, Peter Wilby, asking him to provide information about the article after a complaint by a local Conservative politician and a threat of legal action by the town publicans’ association.
Tory AM for Mid and West Wales Glyn Davies told BBC Wales’ Dragon’s Eye programme that he was glad the magazine had been forced to come clean, but said the story should never have been written.
“I’m pleased, in a sense,” he said. “I’m pleased the magazine has decided to apologise to the people of Welshpool.
“To me, the issue wasn’t about racism, it was about journalistic standards.
“The issue was whether it was right for a national magazine to completely fabricate such a story.”
“It was only by bringing in the police and the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) that the magazine has been forced to back down,” he added.
“This has made the New Statesman look very, very silly. It is a fulsome, total apology, and something which must be very embarrassing for the editor of the magazine.”
The first admission that the story was untrue came on BBC Wales’ current affairs programme, Dragon’s Eye, broadcast on Thursday night.
Mr Jameson told presenter David Williams, “It is, in fact, not a news story-it is an allegorical story.
“It is trying, by use of allegory and symbolism, to draw a comparison between certain happenings in mid Wales and what happened in Weimar, Germany, in 1933.”
Asked if the pub actually existed, he replied : “If the pub does exist, it is, indeed, no more than a composite-something which is put together from a number of different instances.
“If anybody has taken it seriously, of course I apologise.
“I’ve got a great fondness for Welshpool and the surrounding countryside.”