This morning’s Age carries an opinion piece by George Newhouse, who according to his byline is “a member of the legal teams acting for Vivian Alvarez Solon and Cornelia Rau.” Referring to the petition to save the life of Tuong Van Nguyen, he says he is “gobsmacked” at the fact that “a Buckingham Palace spokesperson said the Queen would not act without the approval of the British Government.”

I did this story in Crikey two weeks ago, on 3 November, where I said it was “deeply strange.” But because it seemed so odd, and because people in the media, more than anyone, know not to believe everything they read, I led with the phrase “According to an AAP report.” Newhouse is not so careful.

Sure enough, the day after Crikey ran the story we were enlightened by a subscriber in London, who was also surprised and rang the local AAP reporter to check. The report out of London made no mention of British ministers – as he said, “That bit was added by an AAP person in Melbourne before it went out.” AAP may not understand modern constitutional doctrine, but we can’t assume the palace is so ignorant.

We know there are Crikey readers in Fairfax, but evidently none of them were on the watch when they put together today’s op-ed page.