The Murdoch Sun is well-known for being economical with the actualité. But rarely has one of its stories unravelled as rapidly as “6 days to terror: Damning report as Sun investigator smuggles himself from Turkey to Paris … EXCLUSIVE: Our man travels 2,000 miles across Europe without passport”, which features the journey of Emile Ghessen from Turkey to Paris - just like those alleged terrorists.
Readers were told “A SUN investigator has managed to smuggle himself 2,000 miles from Turkey to Paris in just six days without showing his passport … In a damning exposure of Europe’s lax borders, Emile Ghessen, 34, paid smugglers to get to Greece by boat before travelling up the continent … It is a similar journey to Paris IS suicide bombers Ahmad al Mohammad and M al Mahmod”. Er, no it isn’t.
Here is what the Sun calls "without passport"
We know this as the Croatian Interior Ministry not only checked his passport, but took a scan of it. They reported “Croatian border police registered Emile Pierre Ghessen on 23 November at 2.10 pm at the Tovarnik railway border crossing where he entered the Republic of Croatia, and on 24 November at 5.20 pm at the Zagreb Airport border crossing, where he exited the Republic of Croatia”.
[UPDATE1 7 December 1125 hours: the Sun has now taken down the online version of its story, as the chorus of condemnation reaches a crescendo.
While the Croatian Interior Minister observed "I am glad when the police quickly finds liars like these, so-called professional journalists, and catch them lying about hiding in a toilet where they belong, together with the newspapers which employ them", the questions kept on coming.
Why is it left to a foreign Government to call out the Sun for its abysmal "journalism"?
Was the article written to satisfy an agenda, or did the Sun give Emile Ghessen a free hand, exercising no editorial interference?
Where are editor Tony Gallagher, managing editor Stig Abell, PR man Dylan Sharpe, and CEO Rebekah Brooks, when the title needs someone to defend it?
And on top of that, why were the obvious howlers in the story about the journey from Zagreb to Munich - which it now appears Ghessen made not by train, but by plane - not picked up on?
For instance, all trains crossing from Austria into Germany at locations such as Salzburg are being stopped, and passports checked. There is no way Ghessen could have evaded the check.
His passport was checked at Zagreb Airport at 1720 hours on 24 November. There was a flight to Paris departing at 1755 hours, and one an hour later to Munich. Which one of those was he on? Remember, his name will be on the passenger list for one of them.
The Sun appears to have not bothered to check this story against known facts. It would benefit all at the paper, were they to come clean and explain themselves. But they won't.
That's because Gallagher, Abell, Sharpe and Ms Brooks are a bunch of cowards. No change there, then]
[UPDATE2 7 December 1610 hours: it has now been advised by a Zelo Street regular that Emile Ghessen could not possibly have travelled from Zagreb to Munich by train on the day he claimed.
There is only one Zagreb to Munich connection, and it involves changing trains at Villach (there were through coaches until September this year).
The timetable is also clearly annotated with a warning message for those connecting in Salzburg, where Ghessen would have crossed from Austria into Germany, which translates more or less as "Because of passport controls before boarding in Salzburg all passengers are requested to be at the train in good time before departure (at least 15 minutes)".
And on the day Ghessen claimed to travel, there was overhead line damage between Dorfgastein and Schwarzach-St Veit, which meant rail replacement buses were in operation over that stretch - and the extended journey time means Ghessen would have missed his connection in Salzburg.
Had he actually travelled by train, you would think he might have noticed all of that. It is now clear that he didn't - and flew from Zagreb, either all the way to Paris CDG, or Munich.
Either way, the Sun did not bother to fact check its story and published an ever bigger pack of lies than first thought. Hello Tony Gallagher, Stig Abell, Dylan Sharpe and Rebekah Brooks]