The story below was written on the basis of statements supposedly made by the Mayor of Baltimore which have since been proved to be false. They were fabricated on this website ( http://mayorofbaltimore.org/crimestatement.php). We fell for the hoax.
When the shadow Home Secretary, Chris Grayling, compared modern life in parts of Britain to the critically acclaimed American crime show The Wire, he was ridiculed on this side of the Atlantic.
Now his comments have reached America, and the Mayor of Baltimore, the city in which the violent drama is set, has waded into the controversy.
"This week I was alerted to a speech made by a Member of the British Parliament, a Mr Chris Grayling, who suggested his country should fear becoming like our city of Baltimore as portrayed in the HBO series, The Wire," said Mayor Sheila Dixon, in a statement on her website.
"We all watched The Wire and while it was sometimes a heartbreaking reflection of reality, it was in the main, merely entertaining fiction."
In what surely must have been a pointed reminder to Grayling that it is not only politicians in the UK who are aware of television shows in other countries, Mayor Dixon referenced a certain ITV detective drama which, although may be set in rather more picturesque surroundings than The Wire, nonetheless is also remarkably violent.
"To present a television show as the real Baltimore is to perpetuate a fiction that dishonours our city," she said. "It is as pointless as boasting that Baltimore has a per capita homicide rate a fraction of that in the popular UK television show Midsomer Murders."
Mr Grayling made the comments in a speech on Tuesday. Speaking in Westminster, he said: "The Wire used to be just a work of fiction for British viewers. But under this government, in many parts of British cities, The Wire has become a part of real life in this country too."
Critics scoffed at the comparison, pointing to the fact that in Baltimore the chance of being murdered is one in 2,700, compared to one in 85,000 in Britain. Furthermore, in 2008 Baltimore had almost double the number of murders than London, even though the British capital has a population more than 10 times the size.
To add to his embarrassment, Mr Grayling revealed in a radio interview that he had not even watched all of The Wire's 60 episodes, which are spread across five series. He said: "I've seen most of the first series. I've seen a number of the other episodes."
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