Leading article: Silencing the truth

There can be no doubt that Margaret Haywood broke the National Health Service rules by co-operating with Panorama to film undercover at the Royal Sussex Hospital. But the decision by the Nursing and Midwifery Council yesterday to levy the most extreme sanction available on Ms Haywood by striking her off is a vindictive and unreasonable response.

It also demonstrates a refusal by the NHS to recognise the public interest Ms Haywood served by bringing to light the terrible conditions in which elderly patients were being treated at the Brighton hospital. Earlier this year, Alex Dolan was suspended by the General Teaching Council for secretly filming misconduct in several schools. This week Jeremy Bowen was censured for his impartial reporting in the Middle East. And now Ms Haywood has suffered for exposing the truth in our hospitals. It seems that, in some areas of British life, the custom of shooting the messenger is alive and well.