Independent responds to Lord Bell jibe: 'Journalism is not a polite trade' - Press Gazette

Independent responds to Lord Bell jibe: 'Journalism is not a polite trade'

The Independent has defended the Bureau of Investigative Journalism’s use of subterfuge in its investigation into Chime Communications as it today splashed with more revelations.

Yesterday Lord Bell issued a statement via lawyers Carter Ruck responding to the Independent/BIJ revelations.

He said:

The conduct of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism does not remotely constitute responsible journalism. It is an attempt by unethical, deception to manufacture a story where none exists.

Today the Independent said in a leader:

Journalism is not a polite trade. It asks questions that people would rather not answer and it cannot always restrict itself to knocking on the front door.

This was about getting at the truth for entirely legitimate reasons – just as the Daily Telegraph did when it obtained the data revealing the truth about MPs fiddling expenses. Nobody could argue that this was not in the public interest. The same could be said of the Panorama reporter, masquerading as a social worker, who exposed the abuse of patients at the Winterbourne View care home. Or the Sunday Times team who revealed the corruption at Fifa.

This is no argument that the press should be above the law. Newspapers can, rightly, be prosecuted for what they do, and it is up to the courts to take a view on where the balance lies. Journalism is already in the dock over phone hacking. Doubtless Lord Justice Leveson will note the irony that without the press, the scandal would never have come to light. Regardless of his conclusions, the work of serious investigative journalists in exposing wrongdoing must not be constrained.

Today the Independent reports how Bell Pottinger executives revealed to undercover reporters how they prepared former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks for giving evidence to Parliament – and how they advised her on which police station to go to be arrested.

Click here for all the Bureau of Investigative Journalism’s coverage of its lobbying investigation.



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