Fact-Checking Claims, Policies and Parties

  • Jen BirksEmail author


This chapter examines the characteristics of British fact-checking in relation to the theoretical concerns outlined in Chap.  2. It assesses, from both an empirical and ethical perspective, how the three most established fact-checkers negotiate the boundaries of checkable facts, draw on sources and present their verdicts. Drawing on a content analysis of 176 articles and 232 tweets from Channel 4 FactCheck, BBC Reality Check and independent charity Full Fact, it finds that empirically factual claims (measures of current circumstances) were most commonly and unproblematically checked, but theoretical claims (predictions) and social facts (definitions) were also tackled, with mixed results. Interpretation was open to reasonable challenge, so rejection of the verdict in Twitter replies did not necessarily indicate irrationality, even where potentially motivated by partisanship.


Fact-checking Empirical Truth claims Interpretation Reasonable Balance 


  1. FC02, 10/05/2017, FactCheck, ‘The school funding crisis (Q&A)’
  2. FC03, 16/05/2017, FactCheck, ‘The Labour manifesto: Is it really fully costed?’
  3. FC04, 16/05/2017, FactCheck, ‘The Labour manifesto: Is it more radical than the last one?’
  4. FC05, 18/05/2017, FactCheck, ‘Should we nationalise the railways? (Q&A)’
  5. FC06, 18/05/2017, FactCheck, ‘The Conservative manifesto—The big questions: Do the numbers add up?’
  6. FC07, 18/05/2017, FactCheck, ‘The Conservative manifesto—The big questions: Will there really be £8bn extra for the NHS?’
  7. FC08, 18/05/2017, FactCheck, ‘The Conservative manifesto—The big questions: Will they really cut immigration?’
  8. FC09, 18/05/2017, FactCheck, ‘The Conservative manifesto—The big questions: Will pension spending fall?’
  9. FC13, 22/05/2017, FactCheck, ‘Theresa May’s misleading claims on the ‘Dementia Tax’ U-turn’
  10. FC14, 26/05/2017, FactCheck, ‘Which party has a better track record on the economy?’
  11. FC16, 26/05/2017, FactCheck, ‘The IFS verdict on Labour, Tory and Lib Dem spending plans’
  12. FC19, 31/05/2017, FactCheck, ‘Will expat pensioners really cost the NHS £1billion’
  13. FC22, 07/06/2017, FactCheck, ‘Corbyn wrong on working-class students’
  14. FF06, 10/05/2017, Full Fact, ‘If politicians talk about the rich, always ask who they mean’
  15. FF15, 16/05/2017, Full Fact, ‘Labour manifesto: Food banks’
  16. FF20, 18/05/2017, Full Fact, ‘Conservative Manifesto: Immigration and public services’
  17. FF25, 18/05/2017, Full Fact, ‘Conservative Manifesto: Leaving the single market’
  18. FF27, 26/05/2017, Full Fact, ‘Will there be a cap on social care costs?’
  19. FF29, 30/05/2017, Full Fact, ‘NHS video, factchecked’
  20. FF31, 31/05/2017, Full Fact, ‘Labour’s Land Value Tax: will you have to sell your garden?’
  21. RC02, 19/04/2017, Reality Check, ‘Could election improve UK’s Brexit position?’
  22. RC03, 20/04/2017 (20/04/2017), Reality Check, [on blogroll, linking to:] ‘How much does the UK spend on aid?’
  23. RC06, 25/04/2017, Reality Check, ‘Have we seen record numbers of jobs?’
  24. RC09, 02/05/2017, Reality Check, ‘Are there 20,000 fewer police?’
  25. RC10, 03/05/2017, Reality Check, ‘What do we know about the 100bn euro Brexit bill?’
  26. RC12, 07/05/2017 (06/04/2017), Reality Check, ‘Extending VAT to private school fees’ [on blogroll, linking to:] ‘Do Labour’s sums add up on free school meals?’
  27. RC13, 07/05/2017, Reality Check, ‘Are there 6,700 fewer mental health staff?’
  28. RC16, 08/05/2017, Reality Check, ‘Will free hospital parking cost £162m?’
  29. RC19, 11/05/2017, Reality Check, ‘What does nationalising the railways mean?’
  30. RC26, 16/05/2017, Reality Check, ‘Who would be affected by Labour’s higher taxes?’
  31. RC42, 28/05/2017, Reality Check, ‘What impact have employment tribunal fees had?’
  32. RC43, 28/05/2017, Reality Check, ‘What laws stop terror suspects travelling?’
  33. RC44, 30/05/2017, Reality Check, ‘The fight over women’s state pensions’
  34. RC59, 02/06/2017 (08/09/2016), Reality Check, [on blogroll, linking to:] ‘Do grammar schools work?’
  35. RC64, 04/06/2017, Reality Check, ‘London Bridge attack: What powers do the police have?’


  1. RCT015, 07/05/2017, The Conservatives pledge an extra 10,000 mental health staff. Labour say they have cut 6,700 since 2010. #GE2017,
  2. RCT038, 19/05/2017, John McDonnell cites poverty figures while discussing Winter Fuel Payment. #GE2017,
  3. RCT091, 2/06/2017, Corbyn says wages are falling. This is what’s happened to pay over the past 10 years, inflation-adjusted #bbcqtGoogle Scholar


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Cultural, Media & Visual StudiesUniversity of Nottingham, University ParkNottinghamUK

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