Lionel Barber, editor of the FT: on phone hacking, Wikileaks and the downfall of Vince Cable

Lionel Barber, the cerebral editor of the FT (his brain is so big that it casts a shadow right across the Thames) has given the annual Hugh Cudlipp lecture at the London College of Communication (full text here). It’s a very good speech, not least because it provides the opinion of a well respected editor on three of the most controversial stories of recent months:

On the Vince Cable story

“The Daily Telegraph’s decision to dispatch two journalists posing as constituents to interview the business secretary Vince Cable … was nothing more than entrapment journalism”.

On phone hacking

“Failure to clean house at all news organisations would leave the mainstream media in Britain at risk of retribution in the form of statutory regulation. Many MPs are itching to retaliate for the humiliation of the expenses scandal, but statutory regulation would be a grave step in the wrong direction.

Press freedom is woven into the fabric of our nation. We do not want to go down the same road as countries such as Argentina, Hungary and South Africa which have adopted or are about to adopt new laws curbing press freedom. Democracy, it should be remembered, is not just about holding elections.”

On Wikileaks

“So while official reprisals may still follow, I am inclined to side with my FT colleague Gideon Rachman who wrote, half tongue in cheek, that the Obama administration should pin a medal on Mr Assange. By and large, the cables revealed that what the US government reported in private was exactly what the US government said in public.”