2017 has been a busy year for FactCheck. With a snap election and the start of Brexit negotiations, politicians have churned out a stream of lies, half-truths and misleading claims.
Here are the lowlights of 2017, which were exposed by FactCheck.
1. Jeremy Hunt was wrong about NHS staffing
Speaking on World Mental Health Day, the Health Secretary claimed: “We’ve got 30,000 more people working in mental health today than we had when [Labour] left office.”
But here at FactCheck, we smelt a rat.
Mr Hunt’s figures were wrong. They included all professionally qualified clinical NHS staff in England, and not just mental health staff.
The Department for Health eventually admitted the mistake and corrected the official transcript of parliamentary businesses.
But this was not the only time we had to pull Mr Hunt up on his statistics. For instance, during an announcement on mental health, he said there were “6,000 more people in nursing”. Although technically correct, this figure covered all aspects of the NHS – not just mental health.
Another misleading claim came in August when the health secretary claimed the NHS had “seen more money, more docs and more nurses” under the Conservatives. True in absolute terms, but he ignored the fact there are now more patients than ever. Proportionate to the population, there are actually slightly fewer nurses.
2. Theresa May made a misleading claim to defend her party
After a long-running Channel 4 News investigation, the Electoral Commission fined the Tories a record £70,000 for breaches to election rules. The party had failed to report its expenses properly for elections in previous years.
In the wake of the scandal, Theresa May made a strange statement: “We have complied fully with the Electoral Commission throughout their investigation.”
But, as we pointed out, that’s not quite how the Electoral Commission saw it. Their report had clearly spelled out that “the party did not cooperate fully with the Commission’s enquiries”.
3. There was fake news about terror attacks
There’s been no shortage of fake news this year, coming from all parts of the political spectrum. But none were more disturbing than bogus reports about the spate of terror attacks this year.
In April, the leader of far-right group Britain First, Paul Golding, posted a video that he said showed he called “a crowd of ‘moderate’ Muslims celebrating the Paris terror attack in London”.
FactCheck discovered that although the video footage was real, it had nothing to do with Islam or terrorism. Instead, the people pictured were just cricket fans celebrating Pakistan’s victory over Sri Lanka back in 2009.
There was more fake news in the hours after the attack on Manchester Arena, as reports emerged on social media showing photos of victims.
Some of the people pictured were not even in Manchester at the time, and an image purporting to show Ariana Grade suffering from injuries was actually an old photo of her in costume.
4. Corbyn made a dodgy claim about students…
During the election campaign, the Labour leader campaigned against tuition fees.
Part of his argument was that increased fees had resulted in “fewer students from working-class communities going to university”.
But, when FactCheck investigated, we could find no evidence to support Mr Corbyn’s bold claim. In fact, most official statistics show the proportion of students from less well-off backgrounds at English universities has continued to increase.
We asked Labour about the claim, but they never provided a source or any evidence.
5. … but there were fake claims that Corbyn had U-turned on student debt
Critics of Mr Corbyn accused him of ditching a pledge to scrap student debt.
But he had actually never made such a promise. In an interview, he said he would “deal with it”, but this quote was subsequently taken out of context.
In reality, he had already explained: “I’m looking at ways that we could reduce that [student debt], ameliorate that, lengthen the period of paying it off, or some other means of reducing that debt burden.”
He stopped short of making any specific pledge about completely writing-off all student debts.
6. The PM lied about her ‘Dementia Tax’ U-turn
After heavy criticism over plans to introduce a so-called Dementia Tax, Theresa May backtracked over the policy.
She reassured voters that there would be an “absolute limit” on the amount people have to pay for the cost of care. That was a big difference from her manifesto, which not only omitted any mention of cost limits, but also talked about the implications for people “no matter how large the cost of care turns out to be”.
So, when she claimed “nothing has changed”, she simply was not telling the truth.
7. Labour bungled its childcare claims
Labour said that holiday childcare costs had gone up by 50 per cent under the Tories.
So when Jeremy Corbyn tweeted claiming the costs had “doubled”, it was clear he had fluffed his statistics.
But when FactCheck investigated further we found that the party had failed to use like-for-like data.
When we looked at the correct figures and factored inflation into the picture, it turned out that holiday childcare costs had actually only risen by between 5.6 and 8.8 per cent. Not quite the doubling that Mr Corbyn had told his Twitter followers.
8. Jacob Rees-Mogg was wrong about foodbanks
The Conservative MP made a remarkable series of claims about foodbanks, saying that the “real reason” for the rise in the number of people using them was that “the Conservative government allowed Jobcentre Plus to tell people that food banks existed”.
Mr Rees-Mogg added that the previous Labour government had a policy to “deliberately” refuse to tell people foodbanks existed.
There was just one problem with his claims, though – FactCheck could find no evidence for any of them. What’s more, there’s good evidence to suggest it is actually the government’s own welfare policy which is a key reason why many people are forced to use use food banks.
9. There was fake news over Labour’s track record
In October, the prime minister claimed: “The number of workless households doubled”.
This wasn’t a new accusation: David Cameron had made an almost identical claim back in 2014.
But they were both completely wrong.
According to the Office for National Statistics, the number of workerless households actually rose by about 6.6 per cent between 1997 and 2010 – not 100 per cent, like Mrs May claimed.
10. Bill Clinton conflated ‘immigrants’ with ‘Muslims’
Across the pond, we’ve kept tabs on President Trumps frequent fake claims, such as his tweets about Storm Harvey. We also documented all the promises he broke on Day 1 of his term in office.
But other US politicians did not escape the FactCheck test.
In November we called Bill Clinton out on his baffling claim about Muslims. The former president said: “The aggregate murder rate of Muslims is one third that of the native-born”.
When FactCheck investigated, we found no possible way of calculating the “murder rate” among Muslims, since homicide data does do not break down offenders by religion.
It seemed likely that Clinton was conflating people of Muslim faith with immigrants from Muslim-majority countries. And, even then, there would still problems with the figures. Mr Clinton’s claim sounded impressive, but it didn’t stack up.