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PCC makes big mistake over Telegraph’s 2-faced Lib-Dems story

by on 10 May, 2011

The Press Complaints Commission (PCC) has made a big mistake in its judgement against The Daily Telegraph and its story that Lib-Dem government members were talking out of both sides of their mouths.  They were saying in public they were in favour of many Coalition policies and in private dissing them.  Two faced, at the least.

Nearly half of page 4 of today’s DT is devoted to the outcome.  Publications must publish the full adjudication if it is found against them.  It is also on the website.

What a waste of ink and bits.

8 ministers were tested by the DT’s undercover team in their surgeries.   Among them Vince Cable said he had declared war on “Mr Murdoch” over Murdoch’s attempted takeover of BSkyB.  Well worth reporting, surely.

DT went fishing, says the PCC

The PCC considered the whole investigation a “fishing expedition”.  Therefore it did not warrant undercover recording of the conversations between the journalists posing as constituents and the ministers.  It breached the Editor’s Code of the PCC, it claims.

The DT  was acting on a general tip that Lib-Dem ministers were taking out of both sides of their mouths.  If it had specific allegations against specific ministers the DT  would be justified, thePCC seems to argue.

But nobody was giving specific instances, even off the record, of which Lib-Dem ministers were saying what.  So the DT dug out the story: good investigative reporting, surely.

The PCC promises to issue further guidance.  If this guidance is based on thePCC’s assumptions in this judgement, its guidance will not serve the public, only bury more important stories.

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One Comment
  1. You’re right – it’s an absurd judgement. If knowing about the hypocrisy of our leaders isn’t in the public interest, then the PCC’s definition of ‘public interest’ needs revision.

    But I smell politics in this judgement (and the PCC’s widely trailed ‘determination’ to cover Twitter in the Code of Conduct). The PCC (and the media it representsregulates) is under pressure because of its perceived failure to grapple with the phone tapping scandal. The cry is back: Self-regulation hasn’t worked. Watch out, media – we’re coming for you.

    It’s very much in the PCC’s interest to issue some tough anti-media judgements and strike hard man postures right about now. Expect more of the same.

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