Tory attack on C4 Dispatches journalist looks like nitpicking

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An undercover reporter from Channel 4 has come under fire from the Conservatives after she joined a club for Tory donors as part of a Dispatches this week nto party funding.
She made two monthly payments of £167 to Team 2000, a club for Tory backers contributing £2,000 a year, as part of her investigations for Cameron’s Money Men – which revealed that hedge fund traders involved in the now-banned practice of short-selling were Tory backers.
The Tories claimed to the Mail on Sunday that Jenny Williams’ investigation breached election law saying:
“Electoral law is a highly sensitive matter, and agents provocateurs should not be used in this way to flout the regulations.”
But as we are not currently in an election – it is difficult to see what they are driving at.
And it is not clear whether Ms Williams used subterfuge, as she joined the Tory donor’s club under her own name. In any case the Ofcom Broadcasting Code allows journalists to go under cover where there is a public interest justification.
Investigating the funding of political parties would seem to provide ample public interest.
The code also says that broadcast journalists should act with ‘Due Impartiality” – but in the case if Dispatches, that means fairness over the course of a series – not in one episode.
The Tories’ key gripe appears to be that they were misled because Channel 4 was the real source of the donation – not Ms Williams.
This does sound rather like nitpicking. And if the Conservatives have nothing to hide – why aren’t they just happy to take C4’s cash?
In the context of a documentary’s budget – £334 is very little money, and cash well spent if it sheds more light on a system of party funding which politicians of all colours agree is flawed.

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