Posted by: Ciaran | May 17, 2010

Was the Mail on Sunday right to expose Lord Triesman?

Yesterday’s Mail on Sunday exclusive exposing Lord Triesman’s claims that Spain would try to “bribe” officials in the World Cup has led a number of people to question whether or not they were right to publish the story.

BBC sports editor David Bond says in his blog that at least one other publication turned the article down due to the potential it had for damaging England’s bid to host the 2018 World Cup.

And the ethics of the whole business are both questionable and sad. Lord Triesman, in resigning his posts as the chairman of the FA and England’s World Cup bid, claimed he had been the victim of “entrapment”.

He said: “A private conversation with someone whom I thought to be a friend was taped without my knowledge and passed to a national newspaper.

“In that conversation I commentated on speculation circulating about conspiracies around the world. Those comments were never intended to be taken seriously, as indeed is the case with many private conversations.”

The friend he refers to, 37-year-old Melissa Jacobs, has quite probably made a mint out of turning him over – according to David Bond’s blog, she is thought to have sold the story for as much as £100,000.

The conversations she secretly taped have cost Lord Triesman his two high-profile jobs, and almost certainly dealt a huge blow to the nation’s hopes of hosting the world’s biggest footballing spectacle in 2018.

Clause 10 of the Press Complaints Commission’s Code of Practice states (emphasis added):

i) The press must not seek to obtain or publish material acquired by using hidden cameras or clandestine listening devices; or by intercepting private or mobile telephone calls, messages or emails; or by the unauthorised removal of documents or photographs; or by accessing digitally-held private information without consent.

ii) Engaging in misrepresentation or subterfuge, including by agents or intermediaries, can generally be justified only in the public interest and then only when the material cannot be obtained by other means.

Was this story really in the public interest? Does the importance of what Lord Triesman said outweigh the potential harm to England’s World Cup bid?

Leave a comment below and let me know what you think…

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