A column in the Daily Mail suggested the way ONS had published figures on babies' names attempted to conceal the true number of boys called Mohammed. The Director of Population Health and Regional Analysis wrote to explain why ONS published in the format it did.
It is wrong to suggest that the independent Office for National Statistics has attempted to conceal the 'true' number of boys named Mohammed in its annual list of baby names (Max Hastings, 10 September). As in previous years, published rankings use the exact spellings of first names given on each baby's birth certificate; variants of names could be grouped together but while some name 'groups' are reasonably straightforward, others are more a matter of opinion. For this reason, ONS publishes the data in its original form, allowing users such as Mr Hastings to make their own decisions over which names should be grouped, and how this might affect the annual rankings.
Director, Population Health and Regional Analysis
Office for National Statistics,
Newport NP10 8XG