Taped MP hits back at ‘shoddy behaviour’

POLEGATE MP Norman Baker has accused a national newspaper of ‘shoddy behaviour’ after he was secretly taped talking about his party’s role in connection with the BSkyB takeover.

The Lib Dem Transport Minister criticised the Daily Telegraph and said the publication was trying to break the coalition.

The newspaper quoted him telling undercover reporters, “The reference of Rupert Murdoch, trying to stop him taking over BSkyB, that’s come from Vince Cable, that wouldn’t have happened without us there.”

He added, “We’ve referred it and that’s another thing the Tories are furious about, you know, we’ve stopped Murdoch taking over BSkyB, or referred it to the competition authorities, that would never have happened under the Tories.

“They would have just said: ‘Here you are Mr Murdoch, how much do you want.’”

Mr Baker believes he was targeted by the same journalists who recorded Business Secretary Vince Cable.

Two women who attended a surgery on December 11, told him they were from Seaford and came to him with a ‘sob story’ about child benefit.

He said, “I am seriously worried about the unwarranted and damaging intrusion into the confidentiality that must exist between an MP and his or her constituent. Constituents must be free to talk openly and freely with MPs who must be able to respond in a sympathetic and constructive and confidential manner.”

The Telegraph also taped Mr Cable saying he had ‘declared war’ on Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corporation wants to take control of satellite broadcaster BSkyB.

After his comments went public Mr Cable was stripped of his powers to rule on Mr Murdoch’s bid but kept his cabinet post.

Mr Baker said the couple who spoke to him gave a Seaford address which exists and apparently invented a family including children.

He said the couple also said they had concerns about the Lib Dems allegedly achieving very little in Government.

Mr Baker added, “They effectively invited me to produce a list of achievements in Government, clearly the intention was to put out a statement that can be used for the Telegraph’s own agenda.

“Let’s be quite clear, first of all this damages a relationship between an MP and a constituent which is essential to my job.

“We had one constituent who has contacted the Press Complaints Commission about the Telegraph to say she believes the trust so important (between an MP and a constituent) had been violated.”

He said the Telegraph wants to try and drive a wedge between the two parties to break up the coalition.

He went on to say the actions of the newspaper had brought the whole of the Press into disrepute, adding, “It’s no secret the Lib Dems have concerns about Mr Murdoch extending his media empire further.

“It’s also no secret the Tories have appeared to be more favourable to that position. This is already known. Where’s the revelation?”