MONEY-SAVING expert Martin Lewis has furiously hit back at a UK Government minister downplaying the seriousness of scams in a bid to defend incorrect figures given by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Lewis – who has taken Facebook to court and is an ardent anti-scams campaigner – said he was left "bloody fuming" by Kwasi Kwarteng.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Johnson had claimed there was a fall of 14% in crime under his government's watch.

However, UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) boss Sir David Norgrove said the figures had been presented in a "misleading way" – in part because they excluded fraud and computer misuse, which, if included, would mean a rise of 14% in the figures.

Pressed by BBC journalist Sophie Raworth in a TV interview, Kwarteng said: "When people talk about crime they generally… I think crime, fraud, is really, really important, but people are talking also particularly about burglaries, about personal injury, about physical crimes, and I think in that context we’re seeing lower crime. I think the Prime Minister was right.

The National:

"The point the Prime Minister was making is that the crime that people experience in their day-to-day lives, in terms of fraud … in terms of burglary rather, not fraud, in terms of burglary, in terms of physical injury, has gone down, that’s absolutely right."

His remarks left Lewis incensed, with the expert hitting back on BBC Radio 4's PM show and calling for an apology.

Lewis said: "There’s just pitiful, pitiful resources put into the policing of fraud and scams. These are huge, not just life-disruptive, but life-destroying events in some occasions, and I think as a nation, society, and certainly our political classes, we need a volte-face in thinking this is something trivial. This is not trivial. This is a manifest wellbeing issue."

Asked about Kwarteng's comments, he continued: "I was absolutely bloody fuming. I mean, genuinely, I thump my fist on my desk, as someone who has been campaigning against scams, in my case scam adverts, for four years, as someone who took the world’s biggest company, or one of them, Facebook, to court, as someone who’s been trying to get scam adverts put the Online Safety Bill.

"But, perversely, the adverts that these companies are paid to publish, that they make money from publishing, won’t be put in the Online Safety Bill.

"User-generated content will, which will mean more scam adverts as the criminals are sophisticated and shift their adverts away.

"To hear the Business Secretary say that fraud and online scams aren’t something that people experience in their daily lives is outrageous.

"Millions of people face it every day.

"To have the Business Secretary – and I don’t normally get political, or party political at the least – but to have the Business Secretary try and defend the fact that they put out slightly questionable, iffy crime figures by denigrating the experience that people in this country have with scams and the lives that have been lost or destroyed because of scams is an outrage, and he must and needs to apologise if he has any shred of decency in him."

The National: Priti Patel

The crime figures came in a Home Office press release which said latest data showed “crime continues to fall under this Government”, with Johnson quoting Home Secretary Priti Patel as saying it demonstrated the Government’s approach “is working”.

In his letter to Alistair Carmichael, the LibDem home affairs spokesman who raised the issue, UKSA boss Norgrove wrote: "I agree that Office for National Statistics (ONS) measures of crime must be used accurately, and not misrepresented.

“In this case, the Home Office news release presented the latest figures in a misleading way.

“Likewise, the Prime Minister referred to a 14% reduction in crime, which is the change between the year ending September 2019 and the year ending September 2021. This figure also excludes fraud and computer misuse, though the Prime Minister did not make that clear.

“If fraud and computer misuse are counted in total crime as they should be, total crime in fact increased by 14% between the year ending September 2019 and the year ending September 2021.

“We have written to the Home Office and to the offices of the Prime Minister and Home Secretary to draw their attention to this exchange.”