The Great Debate UK
Whatever reservations there might be over the way the leaked information was obtained, the publication of hitherto secret details about the endemic abuse of MPs’ expenses was without doubt in the public interest.
I have voiced my concerns in the past about cheque-book journalism and the practice of some newspapers in using dubious methods to influence the news agenda, but the Daily Telegraph deserves to be congratulated for seizing the moment and exposing the greed and double-standards of our elected representatives.
What strengthens the public interest justification for buying a purloined copy of the details being processed by the House of Commons fees office was the fact that MPs had collectively done all they could to try to thwart the release of the data.
The expenses crisis is well and truly engulfing Westminster, with equal anticipation and dread about future revelations. Labour was quite reasonably aggrieved that the initial stories all seemed to be about their MPs.
- John Kampfner is chief executive of Index on Censorship and former editor of the New Statesman. His new book, “Freedom for Sale”, will be published by Simon and Schuster in September. The opinions expressed are his own. -
Squalid is the adjective that best describes the approach of our not-so-honourable members of parliament to their own expenses. But what about the journalism that has helped to all but destroy what remaining trust the public had in its elected representatives?