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Today, the Cabinet Office published a press release entitled Response to FT article and Twitter thread by Peter Foster. It begins:

An article in FT Weekend on 18 April 2020, ‘Muddled thinking punctures plan for British ventilator’, includes multiple inaccurate and misleading claims about the UK’s work to procure and manufacture ventilators in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency. An opinion thread on Twitter by one of the article’s authors contains further inaccurate claims and assertions. A detailed rebuttal of the article and the associated Twitter thread can be found below.

It continues on to present various claims from the article along with a response refuting said claim.

I'm only aware of one similar time that this sort of press release has been made, again very recently; on March 28th in response to another FT article on ventilators. This release followed the same pattern of Claim - Response.

Has this sort of press release been made before the coronavirus crisis? If not, is this a result of some new fact-checking department, or some effort in particular to counter apparently erroneous claims during the current pandemic?

Edit: in the time since I posted this question, the government has released another rebuttal, this time in relation to a Sunday Times Insight article:

A Government spokesman said: ‘This article contains a series of falsehoods and errors and actively misrepresents the enormous amount of work which was going on in government at the earliest stages of the Coronavirus outbreak.’

‘This is an unprecedented global pandemic and we have taken the right steps at the right time to combat it, guided at all times by the best scientific advice.

‘The Government has been working day and night to battle against coronavirus, delivering a strategy designed at all times to protect our NHS and save lives.

'Our response has ensured that the NHS has been given all the support it needs to ensure everyone requiring treatment has received it, as well as providing protection to businesses and reassurance to workers.

‘The Prime Minister has been at the helm of the response to this, providing leadership during this hugely challenging period for the whole nation.’

The Claim - Response format release then continues below.

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They do publish rebuttals from time to time. You can search for rebuttal site:gov.uk and see some.

However, I'm not aware of any rebuttals to journalists' (or indeed anyone else's) tweets.

Sky's Ed Conway tweeted:

Never seen the Government issue a rebuttal to a Twitter thread. Let alone devoting nearly 3,000 words to it. ⁦@pmdfoster ⁩ has clearly hit a raw nerve.

https://twitter.com/EdConwaySky/status/1251817928787460096

I think this should be seen in the context of growing criticism about the UK government's preparedness and its approach to the pandemic, there are several threads on which the media is pulling and the government doesn't want to lose the mostly positive narrative it has enjoyed so far.

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