A View From Middle England - Conservative with a slight libertarian touch - For Christian charity and traditional belief - Free Enterprise NOT Covert Corporatism

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Telegraph undercover LibDem sting "broke press rules"

Pressing on with pressing constituency business
The Press Complaints Commission has said that the Daily Telegraph breached rules on the use of subterfuge when it sent reporters to secretly tape Lib Dem ministers. The Telegraph denied it was a "fishing expedition", arguing it had acted upon information "from multiple sources". They may well have got information from various sources, but as Tim Farron MP says today, it is not news to reveal that the Conservatives and LibDems have differences. As we already knew and know that, it can only have been malicious.

The Daily Telegraph I think has decided that it is now both holy revealer of personal wrongdoing and self-promoter of Conservatives in government. The first may have been admirable because it took investigative journalism on the right path. However, the latter is borne out of a distaste the Telegraph has for coalition politics.

The editors of the paper, high low and sub, have allowed themselves to believe that going undercover and provoking a conversation with an MP in the supposedly private and discreet constituency surgery is somehow to the public advantage. It is not. It is underhand not undercover. It is also a slight on our democracy. The Daily Telegraph should not want to sink to redtop level just to boost circulation. Politicians are fair game for what they get up to in their parliamentary work in the House of Commons or what they say or don't say in the media. But both constituents and MPs need to know that their concerns are being discussed in secret and not in preparation for fanfare reporting.

Vince Cable, one of the ministers recorded in the sting, said he was "delighted". He told the BBC, "My main concern, as one of the ministers involved was that we have been personally vindicated and that the relationship between members of Parliament and their constituents, the privacy and confidentiality of their relationship, that's been preserved."

I agree. All MPs, whatever their party, all councillors and all peers should be able to meet the electorate without fear or favour.


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