Accuracy Matters with Tagline Logo 04

When typos reveal more than poor spelling skills

It’s August, and it’s the perfect time to plonk yourself in a deckchair in the dappled shade of a tree and catch up with your stash of crime story reading or viewing.

It’s August, and it’s the perfect time to plonk yourself in a deckchair in the dappled shade of a tree and get your crime fix, whether reading or viewing. If this includes Line of Duty, the immensely popular police corruption thriller, then season six may turn out to be a bit of a busman’s holiday, for two of the episodes feature a cameo appearance by a spelling mistake.

If you haven’t yet watched it, please look away now. In episode three, the unseen bent copper (known as ‘H’) typed ‘definately’ in a secure email conversation with the OCG (organised crime group – this show loves its acronyms). It must be a most unusual email client not to have the familiar wavy red line under the offending word, but never mind.

In episode four, the plot thickened when our hero, Superintendent Ted Hastings, and his team were able to set up a fake email link to the OCG. Amazingly, Ted made the same spelling mistake. Is Ted the bent copper? Surely not!

As it turned out, Ted had closely studied previous messages intercepted between H and the OCG. Clever Ted! With such attention to detail he might consider training to be a proofreader should he need to supplement his police salary or if the powers that be finally succeed in nudging him into early retirement.

Baddies can come a cropper when betrayed by a typo in real life. In 2013, Jacqueline Patrick tried to kill her husband by poisoning his Christmas drink of sparkling fruit wine with anti-freeze, but was undone by a spelling mistake in a forged note. She gave the London Ambulance Service the note, purporting to be from her husband, that stated he did not wish to be resuscitated if he fell ill. In the note, the word ‘dignity’ was spelt as ‘dignerty’. When the police asked her to write the word, she made the same mistake again. The judge sentenced her to 15 years in prison.

In the same year, Paul Potter made nearly £250,000 selling fake Premier League football shirts on eBay. He was red-carded when someone bought a Chelsea shirt with a label saying ‘Made in Chiana’.

So, if ever you’re thinking of using the written word when committing a crime, and you’re not as eagle-eyed as Superintendent Ted, be sure to engage the services of a professional proofreader. (Only joking, of course.)

Read more blogs from Accuracy Matters

created with by jessica lynn design
web development by carolyn sheltraw