The news that the Press Complaints Commission had upheld a complaint by the Liberal Democrats against the Daily Telegraph, over its undercover operation that caught out Business Secretary Vince Cable, was the talk of those attending a panel discussion on paywalls at City University last night.
I told someone that the Telegraph had apparently been "lashed" by the PCC. They replied: "The PCC is toothless, it can't impose sanctions and it can't lash anyone." Someone else suggested that the adjective should be that the Telegraph had been "gummed" by the PCC.
Editors usually take their PCC punishment in silence but there is a strong statement by Telegraph editor Tony Gallagher, as reported by MediaGuardian, about the PCC ruling.
Gallagher says the Telegraph accepts the ruling but says the PCC adjudication "has alarming implications for the future of investigative journalism".
He said: "To be effective the use of subterfuge was necessary. Our revelations led to the demotion of a member of the Cabinet, apologies from a string of junior ministers and condemnation from their party leader."
Gallagher added the decision: "Increases the obstacles facing newspapers wishing to carry out legitimate inquiries based on material which is often by its nature incomplete - and it limits their ability to expose matters of legitimate public interest which those in positions of power would rather shield from public view."