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It’s time to play spot the difference again folks, the game that allows YOU to report from on the ground without leaving the comfort of your cosy press room!

On Monday March 15 I managed to get a brief interview with Efraim Zuroff on the sidelines of a conference in Riga. There were just the two of us standing in a corridor and this is what he said into my dictaphone:

“Ban the march, enforce the ban, and explain to the people that maybe these people were thinking they were fighting for Latvia but the real beneficiary of their service and their bravery was Nazi Germany.”

I filed the story for Deutsche Presse Agentur and it subsequently appeared on the wires.

I was quite surprised the next day to see Mr Zuroff had evidently repeated exactly the same words to the UK newspaper The Guardian. But he must have done so because they didn’t attribute dpa as the source of the quote.

Then once the parade finished, I rushed out a report, again for dpa on how it had passed peacefully. The report included the paragraphs:

“Standing among the demonstrators was Efraim Zuroff of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Jerusalem, who had called on the authorities to ban the parade.

“The event has taken place. I wanted to be here and stand on what I think is the right side,” Zuroff said.

Immediately after the parade, people from both sides mingled and argued about differing interpretations of history, but no serious disturbances were reported. Police said they arrested five people for minor public order offences.”

Contrast this with the report in the UK’s Daily Mail, whose reporter must have been following me around without me noticing because again he also managed to be right next to Mr Zuroff when he spoke. The Mail man reports:

“Standing among the demonstrators was Efraim Zuroff of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Jerusalem, who had called on the authorities to ban the parade.

‘The event has taken place. I wanted to be here and stand on what I think is the right side,’ Zuroff said.

No serious disturbances were reported. Police said they arrested five people for minor public order offences.”

It is particularly instructive to compare these paragons of the fourth estate to local Latvian news portal Delfi.lv which has the decency and diligence to meticulously cite all of its sources, including dpa, in its own overview of foreign media coverage.

Ah, the Great British press. Best in the world, envy of other nations, blah blah blah etc.

STOP PRESS: It seems another UK rag, The Independent was also keen to get in on the cutting and pasting, albeit a day late. Not content with nicking more quotes from Mr Zuroff, the Indy also lifted a few paras from my interview with Visvaldis Lacis in this story which you can compare with the original.

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