EXCLUSIVE: Business Secretary Vince Cable breaks silence on Daily Telegraph's undercover sting and speaks of 'great damage' caused
Speaking out: Business Secretary Vince Cable said the Telegraph sting had caused 'great damage' to relations between MPs and their constituents
Vince Cable today broke his silence to speak of how a sting by undercover reporters had caused “great damage” to the confidential relationship between MPs and constituents.
The Business Secretary said the Daily Telegraph's tactics had "completely undermined" the work of local MPs and he would need to be “more guarded” in the future.
In an exclusive interview with the Richmond and Twickenham Times, he said he was concerned his constituents could be "inhibited or worried" about visiting him at his weekly surgeries.
But the MP insisted he would not quit and remained committed to his work in Twickenham.
It was revealed on on Monday how he told two Telegraph reporters - posing as concerned mothers from his constituency - that he could bring down the Government if he was “pushed too far” by the Conservatives.
In comments held back by the Telegraph but later leaked to the BBC, he “declared war” on media mogul Rupert Murdoch.
Dr Cable said today: “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.”
The Business Secretary has been stripped of his role in deciding News Corporation's proposed takeover of BSkyB, but will keep his cabinet job.
He said today he wanted to speak to the Richmond and Twickenham Times first to reassure his constituents.
Dr Cable said: “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.”
He ruled out taking legal action against the Telegraph, and added: “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.”
He said he remained “committed” to working within the coalition Government, but declined to comment further on his cabinet role.
He is due to go on holiday in the new year, but will continue his constituency surgeries in the first week of January.