Guardian admits its reporter fabricated interviews

© Suzanne Plunkett
Britain’s center-left Guardian newspaper has apologized after it emerged one of its reporters had been fabricating interviews and falsely claiming to have been at events he wrote about.

Joseph Mayton, a California-based freelancer who has been writing for the paper since 2009, was accused of making up quotes in some stories and filing interviews with people who later said they had never spoken to him.

The Guardian, which has been forced to make a large number of its reporters redundant in recent months owing to financial difficulties, published an apology to readers and to the “people whose words were misrepresented or falsified.”

Guardian US editor Lee Glendinning said suspicions were raised in February when sources contacted the company to say they had not spoken to Mayton despite being quoted by him.

The journalist was “unable to provide convincing evidence that the interviews in question had taken place.”

An independent fact-checker was hired to look through the 64 articles written by Mayton and speak to around 50 people supposedly quoted. They found widespread evidence of “likely or confirmed fabrication.”

“Dozens of sources could not be found - either they had no online presence or they were anonymous and could not be substantiated - and several people quoted in Mayton’s articles either denied speaking with him or giving the quotes attributed to them.”

The Guardian has now removed 13 of Mayton’s articles from its website, and many others have been amended to remove inaccuracies.

Mayton, however, denies any fabrication.

“These accusations are incorrect and I have provided evidence showing that many sources had in fact spoken with me and either did not remember or refused to be truthful.

“Granted many of these sources had been spoken with months or years in the past.”

Mayton says many of his interview notes have been lost or were not kept, so could not provide the evidence the Guardian was asking for.

“I admit that I did not do a solid job of keeping records older than a few months and that is my mistake and I am responsible for it. I, like everyone else in our profession, has made mistakes,” he wrote.