The transcripts of the official inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press. More…

I simply want to be confident that what I'm about to put in the paper is true, and that if I'm going to publish a story that is going to be attributed to an anonymous source, that I have the confidence that that source is trustworthy. I don't want to publish a story and then find out that there was some kind of background to this which I wasn't aware of, which meant that, had I been aware of that, I wouldn't have published the story, so I don't think it's unreasonable for the editor to be fully in command of all the facts of a story before it gets him or her into trouble.

So I will always ask, "Who's telling us this?" and if they say, "Well, I can't really say who it is", I say, "Wait a minute, it's not going in the paper then". As I say, it's only happened once, but once I was in a situation where the reporter wouldn't tell me who the source was and I said, "Well, the story's not going in the paper"; then it became more of a principle issue. I said, "Wait a minute, the editor has a right to know the basis of the story that he is legally responsible for", and when the reporter said, "Well, I'm not comfortable with telling you this", I said, "That's a real problem because if you're not comfortable telling me who your sources are, what position does that put me in? I'm responsible for your stories." In the end, the reporter saw the sense of what I was saying and told me, and so we remained friends.

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