The blog claims that Newmark was specifically targeted in a carefully orchestrated sting designed to reveal that he was “exploiting his position for carnal gain.” He writes:
Brooks Newmark was one of the founders of Women2Win”, a campaign to get more Conservative women into politics. Newmark had a certain reputation among younger Tory women for being, for want of a better word, a bit of a creep. Think what his position gave him access to — ambitious, younger women.
There is certainly a question here over how a journalist who suspects an MP of wrongdoing in this regard would go about revealing it — especially after the stringent criticism of media intrusion into people’s private lives following the hacking scandal. Clearly getting someone to reveal their abuse of power willingly requires some degree of subterfuge.
Yet if the sting was “narrowly targeted” and if Wickham acted responsibly then any criticism of his methods should be easily countered by releasing images of the correspondence between the two in full, including screengrabs and transcripts of their messages to each other. Not only would this allow Wickham to push back against his critics but it would also get him ahead of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) investigation into the matter. (And if the sting was “narrowly targeted,” why were 100 MPs following the fake Sophie Whittams Twitter account — including Prime Minister David Cameron?)
If IPSO finds against the Daily Mirror it won’t prove it has teeth, it will prove as we told the Leveson Inquiry, that “media standards” are really a form of censorship that will protect the powerful from having their wrongdoings uncovered.
However, investigations into journalistic practices are necessary when those practices leave themselves open to question. Transparency and candor by Wickham would be the best way to demonstrate that such an inquiry is superfluous in this case.
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