Lib Dems ask PCC to investigate undercover stings

The president of the Liberal Democrats, Tim Farron, has written to the Press Complaints Commission asking it to investigate the undercover stings carried out by reporters from the Daily Telegraph at the surgeries of MPs.

Farron claimed that “all the indications” were that the operations were done as a “fishing expedition” and were not in the public interest. The undercover reporting highly embarrassed the Business Secretary Vince Cable who was recorded telling two female Telegraph journalists, posing as LibDem supporters, that he was “at war” with Rupert Murdoch. As a consequence, the sensitive decision as to whether the bid by Mr Murdoch’s News Corp to take full control of BSkyB should be referred to the competition authorities, was taken out of Mr Cable’s hands.

Several other prominent LibDems were targeted in similar operations. In his letter to the PCC, Mr Farron said: “The articles fail to provide any plausible public interest justification for breaching the [PCC] Editor’s Code, indeed all the indications are that the Daily Telegraph embarked on a ‘fishing expedition’ designed solely to entrap Members of Parliament.

“Robust media scrutiny of politicians is obviously critical for a vibrant democracy. However, if journalists are licensed to embark on clandestine fishing expeditions at constituency surgeries in this way, MPs of all parties will be constrained from engaging in frank discussions with their constituents. Media scrutiny on this basis, far from contributing to democracy, threatens it by undermining the privileged nature of the relationship between constituents and their MPs.

“There are real matters of principle and public interest at stake in this case which are far more significant than the Telegraph articles themselves and I would therefore be grateful if the PCC could investigate this matter and offer guidance for future conduct.”







The PCC confirmed that it has initiated an investigation "into the use of subterfuge by the Daily Telegraph". In a statement it said: "The PCC was contacted by around 200 members of the public on this subject, and proactively sought the comments of party representatives. The President of the Liberal Democrats has today written to the PCC and asked it to investigate the issue."

The commission's investigation will be carried out under clause 10 (Clandestine devices and subterfuge) of the Editors’ Code of Practice.







A spokesperson for the Telegraph Media Group said: “There is a clear public interest in The Daily Telegraph publishing this story. The Daily Telegraph takes the Press Complaints Commission code extremely seriously and has always adhered to it.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Sport
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
News
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
Sport
Jose Mourinho on Sky Sports
footballEXCLUSIVE COLUMN Paul Scholes: It was not a leg-breaking tackle, as the Chelsea manager had claimed
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

£23000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small, friendly, proactive...

Recruitment Genius: Photographic Event Crew

£14500 - £22800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developers - .NET / ASP.NET / WebAPI / JavaScript

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is required to join a lea...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Tax Solicitor - City

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A first rate opportunity to join a top ranking...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower