Misdirection and lies

If someone uncovers wrongdoing in an organisation, who is responsible for the damage done to that organisation – the organisation, the wrongdoers or the someone who uncovered it?

To my mind, the blame lies with the wrongdoers, and with the organisation if the wrongdoing is shown to be widespread or long-standing.

I think that certainly holds for parliamentry expenses.

The editor of the Daily Telegraph has defended his coverage of MPs’ expenses, saying suggestions it had irreparably damaged Parliament were “rubbish”.

Will Lewis told the BBC his paper’s reports about MPs’ claims would make Parliament more “open” and allow a “new generation” of people to be elected.

The coverage led to several MPs resigning and prompted major reforms.

But former Tory leader Michael Howard said some of the paper’s coverage had been “inaccurate and unfair”.

If any of the coverage can be shown to be inaccurate, then those who have been the target of it can get legal redress in a court of law – on Parliament’s watch the libel laws in the UK have become among the strictest in the world. So that is a nonsensical claim, since no writs have been issued.

Anyway, the evidence for the entire long running saga has been drawn from one source: the claims that MPs put in. There is nothing in there that they didn’t put in themselves – the only thing that the telegraph has done is structure it and then release it in a frankly textbook example of Chinese water torture.

They’ve released enough every single day for over a month to keep the story in the headlines. In my memory, there has been nothing that wasn’t being pushed by a politician that kept the headlines for that long; it’s still going on, and there is no way that Brown or any of his friends can act that will stop it, short of just cancelling each and every expense opportunity.

This is what the media is meant to do – not act as spinmeisters for individual parties, not ignore coups and stolen elections to show the still warm corpse of dodgy popstars. So for Mr Michael “I thought of the bastarding ID card, so I did” Howard to claim that the papers have damaged parliament in this, the only time they’ve done their job properly in years, is somewhat rich.

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