PCC rules against Daily Telegraph’s sting operation

Via the BBC:

A newspaper’s decision to secretly tape Liberal Democrat MPs breached press rules on “subterfuge”, a watchdog says.

The Press Complaints Commission said the Daily Telegraph had produced material “in the public interest”.

But it said the paper had not had enough evidence to justify what it called “a fishing expedition”.

Among those taped by reporters posing as constituents was Business Secretary Vince Cable, who was recorded saying he had “declared war” on Rupert Murdoch…

The PCC ruled the newspaper launched the “disproportionately intrusive attention” without sufficient reasons and said it would issue fresh guidance over the acceptable use of subterfuge.

Liberal Democrat party president Tim Farron said:

I am pleased that the PCC has upheld our complaint and defended the vital principle that MPs of all parties should be able to talk freely to their constituents in their constituency surgeries.

I have always conducted my surgeries in the open and frank manner that everyone should expect. That was not affected by the Telegraph’s sting operation. I do not request ID, I do not require birth certificates, and nor should any MP have to.

Everyone should be able to go an MPs office and expect that the meeting will be in confidence, open and honest. The secret recordings threatened to undermine that relationship, and I am glad that the PCC has supported that view.

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5 Comments

  • Andrew Duffield 10th May '11 - 8:30am

    “Sting” operation, surely?

    On the other hand, “give ’em enough string…” !

  • Andrew Duffield 10th May '11 - 8:35am

    Bugger – you’ve just corrected your misspelt headline, which means my joke’s just hanged itself!

  • They did however rule that the information uncovered was in the public interest. MP’s who say one thing in public and another to constituents are not being honest to one group. Had they not been the sting would have led to nothing.

  • Ibrahim Taguri 10th May '11 - 10:31am

    The one element which was of public interest The Telegraph omitted because it was not in their own interest. The whole operation was designed to hurt the Lib Dems and not to serve the public.

  • A comment here gives the impression that Vince Cable had something to hide with his comments on Rupert Murdoch because he had said one thing in public which was the opposite of what he later said in private.
    No comment had been made in public to the effect that the Business Secretary was ” at peace” with and therefore approved of the BSkyB takeover so the charge is groundless.
    Meanwhile, there’s little to cheer in the upholding of Tim Farron’s complaint: the retraction was published verbatim with little prominence and with no online comments allowed. Only the fact that a media soon to be dominated by the multi-platform Newscorp should disturb the Sirs David and Fred on their rock in the Channel, although the Telegraph management will lose little sleep as the ship steers ever onward to the Right.

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