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Tuesday 8 July 2008

EXCLUSIVE: Manchester Pride ‘unable to substantiate’ claims made in press interview with Chairman

Manchester Pride has admitted that it is unable to explain figures that were quoted by its Chairman Andrew Stokes in an interview that appeared on the rainbownetwork.com (gaydarnation.com) website in August 2007.

In the article, Mr Stokes claimed:

‘Pride always attracts a crowd. The parade alone is usually watched by over 200,000 people and 100,000 people pass through the event area during the four-day Big Weekend.’

This week, Trading Standards asked Manchester Pride how 100,000 people could pass through the event area when entry to the Gay Village is impossible without a ticket and when there is extensive evidence that only around 35,000-45,000 tickets are sold each year.

Pride admitted it could not substantiate the 100,000 figure.

Manchester Pride has also been forced to remove from its website references to 200,000 or 250,000 people watching the Saturday parade.

As we’ve revealed on g7uk.com in the past, a crowd of that size at the parade is physically impossible. The BBC reports that the parade is watched by ‘tens of thousands’. Many of whom are also ticket buyers.

However the massively-inflated crowd figures have been put out in official Pride press releases for years, picked up and published by the media, and quoted in interviews with Pride staff. The history of the event has been completely distorted and the public deceived for more than a decade.

Pride has said it will remove any reference to the size of the crowd at the parade until such time as it can justify the numbers with an independent source which it can attribute.

However, Manchester Pride has past history of ‘attributing’ figures.

In the Manchester Evening News article ‘We’ll attract record crowds predict Pride festival chiefs’, published on August 25, 2006, Andy Owen, a spokeman for Manchester Pride is quoted as saying:

‘Last year, police estimated that about 250,000 people gathered in the city centre to watch the main Manchester Pride parade on Saturday.’

But, in February 2007, when g7uk.com asked Greater Manchester Police how they could have estimated such an impossible figure, the Police told us in writing:

‘With regards to the estimated attendance figures we get those direct from the [Pride] organisers’…

In 2000 the Manchester Evening News reported that ‘an estimated 600,000’ had watched the parade the previous year. A ludicrous figure that is more than one quarter of the entire population of Greater Manchester. You can still see that article online here.

The bottom line is that the organisers and media have misled the public for years and nothing was done about it.

UPDATE (August 2008): the article on Rainbow Network has since been edited to remove the figures. But an archived version can still be seen here on archive.org.

Take a look at the current version of the same article.


Filed under: consumer,LGBT,Manchester — GS @ 6:30 pm

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