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‘This was no fishing expedition…this was an agreed plan’ – Guido Fawkes blog defends reporter in Sunday Mirror MP sexting sting

By Dominic Ponsford

The Guido Fawkes blog has admitted that its reporter Alex Wickham was behind the Sunday Mirror MP sexting sting and insisted that it was “no fishing expedition”.

Civil societies minister Brooks Newmark resigned on Saturday after Wickham posted as “Twentysomething Tory PR girl” Sophie Wittams on Twitter using a picture of a Swedish model for the profile. The married MP resigned after sending ‘Wittams’ a picture exposing himself.

New press regulator IPSO has already said it plans to investigate the story. Chairman Alan Moses said the story was a matter of “urgent public concern” and that subterfuge should only used as a “last resort”.

The Guido Fawkes blog, edited by Paul Staines, said: "For the record and the avoidance of doubt, Alex Wickham – better known to our readers as WikiGuido – is a fine young journalist with more front page splashes to his name than some of his critics have had in their entire careers. His so-called sting – which was actually evidence gathering – was not an unauthorised operation. There will be no 'rogue reporter defence', it was an agreed plan."

He noted that Newmark was one of the founders of a campaign to get more women involved in the Conservative party and had “a certain reputation”.

The blog said: "MPs have been shown to be corrupt in the past by sting operations; Cash for Questions and Byers for Hire revealed MPs exploiting their positions for financial gain. How do our critics expect us to prove an MP is exploiting his position for carnal gain?

"This was no fishing operation, it was a narrowly targeted effort. The Sophie Wittams Twitter account followed almost 100 MPs as part of the cover story – not to target them – which is obvious given that many of them were women MPs and the list included the Prime Minister. There was no intention to trap the PM."

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Defending the public interest in the story, the blog said: “The public interest in this story is not just whether a man who misbehaves in his pyjamas can misbehave in public office, although that is an issue for many people.

"Nor just that a Government minister was opening himself to blackmail with his behaviour, which should be a sacking offence anyway.

"It’s that a man in our employ, tasked with encouraging us all to be nicer and with making his party more friendly towards women, was so utterly awful at his job.”

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