The Parliamentary standards watchdog has criticised Channel 4 and The Daily Telegraph for unfairly tarnishing the reputations of Malcolm Rifkind (Conservative) and Jack Straw (Labour). Both politicians were caught in a sting earlier this year in which they thought they were going to make a lot of money by selling their knowledge of governments, and their ability to influence them, to Chinese business interests. (See Marketing Matters, Issue 43, March/April 2015, JACK GOES UNDER THE RADAR)
In the filmed interviews both men boasted of their successes in this area, and Straw commented that he had found it was best to get laws changed in favour of his business paymasters “under the radar”, presumably meaning out of public sight.
Both the Daily Telegraph and Channel 4 have defended their sting as fair, and in the public interest with the Telegraph noting that “Parliament still sees fit for MPs to be judge and jury on their own conduct”.
For most the cases of Rifkind and Straw, and the defensive reaction of the Parliamentary standards watchdog, provide more compelling reasons why our politicians should never, ever control the media.