I was asked to write a review of the Channel 4 Dispatches recently which focused on Sir Malcolm Rifkind and Jack Straw being filmed on camera apparently offering cash-for-access to a fake Chinese company.
Given security tensions over anything Chinese these days, you might have thought this pair would have been loathe to even take meetings. Alas, that was far from the case.
I thought the documentary itself was good, revealing a great deal not only about the culture of Westminster political access, but also the two men themselves. These were two very senior politicians who were long-in-the-tooth and presumably knew every old trick in the book when it came to journalism stings. Yet, there they were, for all the world to see, hustling like beginners and making themselves available like two young pols at the start of their careers instead of nearer the end. It wasn’t the deepest of documentaries and I would have liked more context and analysis. That said, the raw undercover camera footage really caught the pair in the apparent act of laying out their daily rates and so on. There wasn’t much dignity in the whole sorry exchange and both men came of looking pretty greedy and out of touch with reality.
Both careers have been irrevocably damaged. It was old fashioned sting journalism at its best – and most lethal.
The article can be found here.