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Cable won't sue, but will Parliament act?

by Paul Goodman

Vince Cable's local paper is sometimes the means by which makes a national announcement.  He told it that he'd vote for higher tuition fees.  After the best part of two days' silence, he has used it to speak out as follows about the way in which he was stung by the Daily Telegraph -

“I feel quite angry and strongly about this, I’ve had constituency surgeries now for 13 years every week, that’s well over 600.

Thousands and thousands of constituents have been to see me, often on very difficult and highly confidential issues which have been respected by me and by them.

Then somebody who isn’t a constituent falsifies their name and address and comes in with a hidden microphone - it completely undermines the whole basis on which you operate as a local MP.

All my colleagues, of all parties, feel very strongly that some great damage has been done by this.

I’m very committed to my constituency work, it’s obviously difficult when you’re in the cabinet, but I will continue in the new year and I hope people will not feel they are inhibited or worried about coming to see me.

I will continue to make myself available and continue to be a local MP to the best of my ability.”

Sometimes you have to try to give people frank comments and advice, and in this particular case I did preface what I was saying by saying if they want to have a conversation about a political matter as well as a personal matter it is confidential, and you do expect people to behave in a trustworthy way, which these people from the Daily Telegraph didn’t.

Obviously one will have to be more guarded, but the problem is you need to give people an honest answer when they ask a question. Again it diminishes our role.

“It’s unfortunate, I will just have to find a way to deal with this which enables me to perform my local role properly.”

It was never likely that legal action would be taken against the Telegraph.  But I'm intrigued by the stress which Cable places on "all my colleagues, of all parties" feeling strongly about the matter.  Michael White has hinted that the matter may be raised as a breach of Parliamentary privilege when the Commons returns after the Christmas recess.  Was Cable hinting at such a course being taken?

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