By Max Clarke
The Telegraph published a series of articles last year containing information ‘obtained using subterfuge’, the Press Complaints Commission has ruled.
The articles, said the independent press regulator, quoted a number of comments made by senior Liberal Democrat MPs in their constituency surgeries, which had been secretly recorded by the newspaper's journalists posing as constituents.
The MPs featured included Vince Cable, Ed Davey, Steve Webb, Michael Moore, Norman Baker, Andrew Stunnell, David Heath and Paul Burstow. The complainant - who was formally acting on behalf of the MPs concerned, with their consent - said that the newspaper had embarked on a 'fishing expedition' "designed solely to entrap Members of Parliament" which had no plausible public interest justification.
"The Commission has consistently ruled that ‘fishing expeditions' where newspapers employ subterfuge and use clandestine devices without sufficient justification are unacceptable,” said PCC Director Stephen Abell.
He continued: "The issue of how journalists make use of subterfuge deserves scrutiny, and indeed goes much wider than the Telegraph's actions on this occasion."
Business Seccretary, Vince Cable, one of the targets of the alleged subterfuge, is said to be delighted by the PCC’s ruling.