Business Secretary Vince Cable 'delighted' after watchdog rules Telegraph sting 'breached rules'

Richmond and Twickenham Times: Delighted: Vince Cable said his confidential relationship with constituents has been reinforced after the PCC ruling Delighted: Vince Cable said his confidential relationship with constituents has been reinforced after the PCC ruling

Vince Cable said today his confidential relationship with constituents has been reinforced after a Daily Telegraph sting at his weekly surgery was found to have breached rules against using subterfuge.

The Business Secretary said he was “delighted” with the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) ruling, which said the newspaper had no justification for sending two undercover reporters to his office in Lion Road, Twickenham.

The journalists were trying to expose alleged discontent among Liberal Democrat ministers.

They secretly recorded the Twickenham MP saying that being in the coalition Government was "like fighting a war" and he could use the "nuclear option" of resigning. He also “declared war" on media tycoon Rupert Murdoch.

The PCC accepted the Telegraph's tactics in December last year had produced material that was "in the public interest".

Dr Cable today ruled out taking legal action against the newspaper and told the Richmond and Twickenham Times he hoped the PCC findings would restore trust between him and his constituents.

He said: “I’m delighted with the findings which fully vindicates the complaints I and my colleagues made to the PCC.

“It’s very rare the commission comes down so clearly and we are very pleased with the outcome.

“From my point of view as a local MP I’m particularly pleased that the relationship I was seeking to reinforce, which was my confidential and private relationship with individual constituents, has been recognised and supported by the commission.

“I hope that, particularly in light of this ruling, my constituents and others will be reassured that trust has not been undermined.

“It was important this was established by an independent, respected and reputable body.”

Tim Farron MP, president of the Liberal Democrat Party, took the case to the PCC which today upheld his complaint and ruled the Telegraph had launched "disproportionately intrusive attention" without sufficient reasons.

Dr Cable, who was stripped of media regulation powers after the sting - which he said had also caused “great damage” to his work with constituents - confirmed he was not considering taking the newspaper to court.

He said: “It’s a matter for the party to decide what action to take but I’m certainly not considering that.”

The Daily Telegraph told the PCC its sting had proved Lib Dem ministers "were not consistent in their private and public statements" about the coalition Government.

But the watchdog said the newspaper’s initial evidence was insufficiently strong to warrant the level of intrusion and that the ministers were asked "to comment on a series of policy issues with the evident intent of establishing on which subject they might say something newsworthy".

Comments (11)

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10:15pm Tue 10 May 11

PhillipTaylor says...

Well, I hope he is happy now!

Clearly, Vince will not be holding future 'interviews' with young female trainee reporters again... (we hope)!

The real problem is not 'The Daily Telegraph' itself, or even the misplaced current judicial censorship of the papers with silly injunctions.

It is about one problem only... what is it the Liberals really think about issues having one external message for the voter and a rather different internal message?

This ruling highlights, unfortunately, that the real 'nasty' Party are the LibDems.

Phillip Taylor
Well, I hope he is happy now! Clearly, Vince will not be holding future 'interviews' with young female trainee reporters again... (we hope)! The real problem is not 'The Daily Telegraph' itself, or even the misplaced current judicial censorship of the papers with silly injunctions. It is about one problem only... what is it the Liberals really think about issues having one external message for the voter and a rather different internal message? This ruling highlights, unfortunately, that the real 'nasty' Party are the LibDems. Phillip Taylor PhillipTaylor

12:11am Wed 11 May 11

Montrose says...

I note a pertinent point from the Press Complaints Commission was this was “in the public interest” – and it’s buried half-way down this article.

I think Vincent Cable behaved badly – gossiping with strangers in his surgery and fantasising that he could bring down the coalition government if he resigned. I note he has never apologised for his ‘loose talk’ – instead he now thinks he has vindicated himself.

But what can you expect from somebody who abandoned their constituents when they were protesting against his Lib Dem council planning to concrete over part of Twickenham Riverside for luxury housing. Mr Cable informed them that he did not get involved in council matters. Except he does – as long as they’re not councils run by fellow Lib Dems!
I note a pertinent point from the Press Complaints Commission was this was “in the public interest” – and it’s buried half-way down this article. I think Vincent Cable behaved badly – gossiping with strangers in his surgery and fantasising that he could bring down the coalition government if he resigned. I note he has never apologised for his ‘loose talk’ – instead he now thinks he has vindicated himself. But what can you expect from somebody who abandoned their constituents when they were protesting against his Lib Dem council planning to concrete over part of Twickenham Riverside for luxury housing. Mr Cable informed them that he did not get involved in council matters. Except he does – as long as they’re not councils run by fellow Lib Dems! Montrose

12:29am Wed 11 May 11

Montrose says...

I note a pertinent point from the Press Complaints Commission was this was “in the public interest” – and it’s buried half-way down this article.

I think Vincent Cable behaved badly – gossiping with strangers in his surgery and fantasising that he could bring down the coalition government if he resigned. I note he has never apologised for his ‘loose talk’ – instead he now thinks he has vindicated himself.

But what can you expect from somebody who abandoned their constituents when they were protesting against his Lib Dem council planning to concrete over part of Twickenham Riverside for luxury housing. Mr Cable informed them that he did not get involved in council matters. Except he does – as long as they’re not councils run by fellow Lib Dems!
I note a pertinent point from the Press Complaints Commission was this was “in the public interest” – and it’s buried half-way down this article. I think Vincent Cable behaved badly – gossiping with strangers in his surgery and fantasising that he could bring down the coalition government if he resigned. I note he has never apologised for his ‘loose talk’ – instead he now thinks he has vindicated himself. But what can you expect from somebody who abandoned their constituents when they were protesting against his Lib Dem council planning to concrete over part of Twickenham Riverside for luxury housing. Mr Cable informed them that he did not get involved in council matters. Except he does – as long as they’re not councils run by fellow Lib Dems! Montrose

3:08pm Wed 11 May 11

Twickenham Bob says...

Congratulations to Vincent Cable. It’s important that members of parliament can talk freely with constituents without fear that they are being recorded.
.
Such freedoms, which may seem small on their own, do a great deal when aggregated to promote democracy and freedom.
.
Of the record chats do help to shape policy, and is something people of all political view points should stand up to protect.
Congratulations to Vincent Cable. It’s important that members of parliament can talk freely with constituents without fear that they are being recorded. . Such freedoms, which may seem small on their own, do a great deal when aggregated to promote democracy and freedom. . Of the record chats do help to shape policy, and is something people of all political view points should stand up to protect. Twickenham Bob

10:18pm Wed 11 May 11

PhillipTaylor says...

Yes, Bob. However, Vince is still the bookies' favourite to leave the sinking ship first... not Mr Huhne.

I dislike the use of the honey-trap as it is wrong to entice people in this way but Vince should have known better.

Surely you realize that he was just saying what he really believed so he is following in the footsteps of the late John Biffen as a 'semi-detached' member of the Cabinet... that is before he is sacked next year. There certainly will not be any place for Mr Laws in this Parliament to return to the Cabinet.

Phillip Taylor
Yes, Bob. However, Vince is still the bookies' favourite to leave the sinking ship first... not Mr Huhne. I dislike the use of the honey-trap as it is wrong to entice people in this way but Vince should have known better. Surely you realize that he was just saying what he really believed so he is following in the footsteps of the late John Biffen as a 'semi-detached' member of the Cabinet... that is before he is sacked next year. There certainly will not be any place for Mr Laws in this Parliament to return to the Cabinet. Phillip Taylor PhillipTaylor

11:47pm Wed 11 May 11

alex twickenham says...

This would be quite an amusing story if it wasn't about such a serious matter. So - Vince Cable was "stung". More fool him - I've long questioned his competence to hold high office. This episode confirms my belief that his ego/vanity is far greater than his ability. How many other politicians have jumped ship so often and failed to get selected so many times - hardly a rock of stability is he? How someone with his experience and maturity could allow a pair of apparent "yummy mummies" to tempt him into bragging about his power defies belief - but he did! Fortunately it promptly cost him most of his job and the BSB buyout is now to be decided without his clear pre-determination. In my view that shows that the Telegraph sting was entirely justified and in the public interest.
This sorry saga reminds me of the LibDem attacks by Councillors Knight and Elengorn over the repeal of the pointless CO2 tax schemes. What was their bone of contention? Pre-determination by Councillor Clare Head - why? because it was in her manifesto statement. What a breath of fresh air after the hidden LibDem agendas - it would appear that Vince Cable is cast from the same mould as our local politicos.
Alex
This would be quite an amusing story if it wasn't about such a serious matter. So - Vince Cable was "stung". More fool him - I've long questioned his competence to hold high office. This episode confirms my belief that his ego/vanity is far greater than his ability. How many other politicians have jumped ship so often and failed to get selected so many times - hardly a rock of stability is he? How someone with his experience and maturity could allow a pair of apparent "yummy mummies" to tempt him into bragging about his power defies belief - but he did! Fortunately it promptly cost him most of his job and the BSB buyout is now to be decided without his clear pre-determination. In my view that shows that the Telegraph sting was entirely justified and in the public interest. This sorry saga reminds me of the LibDem attacks by Councillors Knight and Elengorn over the repeal of the pointless CO2 tax schemes. What was their bone of contention? Pre-determination by Councillor Clare Head - why? because it was in her manifesto statement. What a breath of fresh air after the hidden LibDem agendas - it would appear that Vince Cable is cast from the same mould as our local politicos. Alex alex twickenham

11:55pm Wed 11 May 11

jsam says...

The PCC has doled out an almighty slap on the Tory house paper's wrists thus demonstrating the awe inspiring power of self-regulation once again.

This issue is squarely one of surgery confidentiality. Violating an MP's surgery, of any colour, demeans the process. The editor of the Telegraph should resign. Had the BBC done this you can wager many of the bonkers hue of blue would be baying for the top man to go. So why not for this sleazy approach?
The PCC has doled out an almighty slap on the Tory house paper's wrists thus demonstrating the awe inspiring power of self-regulation once again. This issue is squarely one of surgery confidentiality. Violating an MP's surgery, of any colour, demeans the process. The editor of the Telegraph should resign. Had the BBC done this you can wager many of the bonkers hue of blue would be baying for the top man to go. So why not for this sleazy approach? jsam

9:21pm Thu 12 May 11

Montrose says...

Really jsam are you incapable of making a point without resorting to insults of your own invention – “the bonkers hue of blue”?

Funnily enough the most common term of collective political abuse is for certain Left-wingers who have been dubbed “The Loony Left”. The phrase even has its own entry in Wikipedia – here: http://en.wikipedia.
org/wiki/Loony_left
Really jsam are you incapable of making a point without resorting to insults of your own invention – “the bonkers hue of blue”? Funnily enough the most common term of collective political abuse is for certain Left-wingers who have been dubbed “The Loony Left”. The phrase even has its own entry in Wikipedia – here: http://en.wikipedia. org/wiki/Loony_left Montrose

4:29pm Fri 13 May 11

tim_lennon says...

Phillip Taylor is right, of course: super injunctions are a complete non-issue when lined up against unguarded comments made my MPs in the supposed privacy of their surgeries.

(I quote: "The real problem is not ... the misplaced current judicial censorship of the papers with silly injunctions.

It is about one problem only... what is it the Liberals really think about issues having one external message for the voter and a rather different internal message?"

You go, Phil, more fab legal analysis from the greatest barista on the board!
Phillip Taylor is right, of course: super injunctions are a complete non-issue when lined up against unguarded comments made my MPs in the supposed privacy of their surgeries. (I quote: "The real problem is not ... the misplaced current judicial censorship of the papers with silly injunctions. It is about one problem only... what is it the Liberals really think about issues having one external message for the voter and a rather different internal message?" You go, Phil, more fab legal analysis from the greatest barista on the board! tim_lennon

9:21pm Fri 13 May 11

alex twickenham says...

What a bizarre post from Tim_Lennon - its even more impenetrable than Gareth Roberts' of May 10th about the ALDC. Do these people speak a different version of English or do they spend too much time in the pub? Cutting to the chase Tim, your hero Vince chose to indulge in a bit of rather smug self importance - as I have said before. More fool him, its a human trait, we all do it from time to time but not in an MP's surgery surely! After all, who was disclosing privileged information? It wasn't his "constituents" was it? Did you watch him on Question Time last night? I did and thought he performed marginally better than Max Mosley and thats not saying a lot.
Alex.
PS: What's a "barista"?
What a bizarre post from Tim_Lennon - its even more impenetrable than Gareth Roberts' of May 10th about the ALDC. Do these people speak a different version of English or do they spend too much time in the pub? Cutting to the chase Tim, your hero Vince chose to indulge in a bit of rather smug self importance - as I have said before. More fool him, its a human trait, we all do it from time to time but not in an MP's surgery surely! After all, who was disclosing privileged information? It wasn't his "constituents" was it? Did you watch him on Question Time last night? I did and thought he performed marginally better than Max Mosley and thats not saying a lot. Alex. PS: What's a "barista"? alex twickenham

1:42am Tue 17 May 11

metis says...

Philip Taylor - "Vince is still the bookies favourite to leave the sinking ship first not Huhne". I wouldn't be too sure of that in light of recent news. And thank God too. Huhnes AGW nonsense will be a disaster for this country. The last person to leave wont need to turn the lights off!!
Philip Taylor - "Vince is still the bookies favourite to leave the sinking ship first not Huhne". I wouldn't be too sure of that in light of recent news. And thank God too. Huhnes AGW nonsense will be a disaster for this country. The last person to leave wont need to turn the lights off!! metis

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