Telegraph urged to end 'witch hunt' for source of Cable comments leak to Robert Peston

Stephen Glover helpfully urges Telegraph senior management to “cool it” today and halt the ongoing “witch-hunt” to find out who leaked part of the Telegraph undercover story about Vince Cable to the BBC’s Robert Peston.

It has been widely reported that the Telegraph has appointed corporate private investigators Kroll Associates to find out the source of the leak. Private Eye has its version of events here.

It all relates to the 20 December story in which the Telegraph reported comments made by business secretary Vince Cable to two journalists posing undercover as constituents. In this first story – and in a so-called “full transcript” – the Telegraph omitted the one slam-dunk revelation made by Cable to reporters, that as business secretary he was fighting to block Rupert Murdoch’s bid to buy the 61 per cent of BSkyB he does not already own.

We found out about the comments at 2.30pm on 21 December courtesy of BBC business editor Robert Peston who published the real “full transcript” of Cable’s secretly recorded comments on his blog after they were leaked to him by a Telegraph insider.

They revealed that Cable said: “I am picking my fights, some of which you may have seen, some of which you may haven’t seen.

“And I don’t know if you have been following what has been happening with the Murdoch press, where I have declared war on Mr Murdoch and I think we are going to win.”

Glover suggests that Telegraph management would be better to let sleeping dogs lie on this one.

The Telegraph insists that it always intended to publish Cable’s other comments – but that it was just spreading the stories out a bit. But the clear suspicion is that some insider felt the paper was being censored for political reasons.

The Telegraph’s owners are among those to have signalled their opposition to the Murdoch bid. The effect of publishing Cable’s comments was to make the success of the bid more likely, as Cable lost the power to decide on it.

On Friday it emerged that the Telegraph story was nominated in the Scoop of the Year category at The Press Awards.

The Press Complaints Commissions is still investigating whether use of subterfuge in this story was a breach of the Editor’s Code.

Earlier this month Financial Times editor Lionel Barber condemned it during a public lecture, saying: “It was nothing more than entrapment journalism.” He said that use of such methods can be ‘deeply corrosive not just to the newspaper’s bond with its readers but also to the body politic”.

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