Starmer v Johnson: fact check on care home claims

14 May 2020, 15:24

Independent fact-checking organisation Full Fact came on to LBC to determine which party leader was correct after their clash over the Government's care home guidance.

Boris Johnson and Sir Keir Starmer clashed in the Commons on Wednesday after the Labour leader said the Government was “too slow to protect people in care homes” after ONS figures showed 40% of coronavirus deaths were in care homes. The Prime Minister denied this accusation.

In a letter following the exchange, Mr Starmer drew on the Government's own official advice published on 25 February which said it was "very unlikely that anyone receiving care in a care home or the community will become infected."

Hitting back, Downing Street claimed Sir Keir had "inaccurately and selectively" quoted this official guidance which was in place until 13 March before being withdrawn.

Deputy Editor of Full Fact Claire Milne said, "It is correct that the line that Mr Starmer quoted was in government guidance. That guidance was published on 25 February and was in force until it was withdrawn on 13 March."

"It also says it again in a section talking about the recommendation that care workers and health workers should wear face masks. It says it twice in that guidance there. I say again it was withdrawn on 13 March so it was enforced until that point."

Claire Milne observed that the Prime Minister was reiterating to the Labour leader that while this had been the guidance in place, advice had altered since then.

Shelagh asked whether official guidance had always allowed two people from different households to meet as long as they observe social distancing.

Ms Milne responded: "The legislation that's in place says gatherings of more than two people from different households are against the law.... This week we've had more guidance that is different from the legislation saying that you can meet another person...providing that you socially distance." She confirmed that it no longer has to be just for exercise.

Ms Milne told Shelagh Full Fact had also looked into the poll referenced by the Health Secretary detailing the amount of people on the Isle of Wight who said they'd download the track and trace app being trialled.

The Health Secretary had said that according to a very early poll 80% of people on the Isle of Wight wanted to download the app.

"The problem with this was it was a Facebook poll by Isle of Wight radio, it wasn't a representative poll done by a polling company which is controlled for the people responding to it so in this case, anyone with a Facebook account who had seen this poll could respond to it.

"We can't say that this poll in any way represented the views of people living on the Isle of Wight who might want to download the app or not."