Full Fact and Straight Statistics "absolutely complementary" to UK Statistics Authority, says stats chief


The work of Full Fact and Straight Statistics is "absolutely complementary" to the role of the UK Statistics Authority, the new Chairman of the watchdog has said.

Speaking to the Independent's Economics Editor Ben Chu, Andrew Dilnot said that he was delighted at the emergence of factchecking organisations which seek to foster better understanding of official stats, and tackle misrepresentations of the numbers.

Asked of his views of so-called 'myth-busting' organisations, Mr Dilnot said:

"Full Fact and Straight Statistics are absolutely complementary to what we do. I’m delighted to see it happening. It’s all to the good. We have no desire to be a monopoly on anything except the regulation of official statistics. The more discussion and debate there is the better because this is terribly important."

His comments were given in an interview with the Independent published last month. Although they didn't make the write-up published by the paper, Full Fact obtained a transcript from Mr Chu.

Naturally, we are pleased not only to have our work recognised by Mr Dilnot, but in appreciation of the complementary role we seek to play to that of the Statistics Authority.

The Authority is best known for the high profile tickings-off given to politicians for the misuse of figures, but as Mr Dilnot points out the work of the Authority is much wider, encompassing the promotion of high standards in the production, publication and discussion of statistics.

Full Fact was set up in part because there was a need for an organisation that looked at the accuracy of information cited in public debate on a day-by-day basis by politicians and the press. 

None of the relevant regulatory bodies whose remit touches on this area - be it the Statistics Authority, the Press Complaints Commission or Ofcom - are designed to be as pro-active in this respect as Full Fact aims to be.

As we know only too well, monitoring and checking claims is a time-consuming business, but a vital one.

Already we have been able to translate our work into practical recommendations on reforms to press regulation as well as changes to how Government departments and the Office for National Statistics make data available.

It is precisely through the kind of complementary work that Sir Andrew mentions that we feel meaningful improvements can be enacted, and we look forward to continuing to work productively with the Statistics Authority and other relevant regulators to make that happen.