The scandal over the expenses of British politicians has gone on long enough, says the Archbishop of Canterbury, who has warned that the "systematic humiliation" of MPs over their expenses is a threat to democracy in Britain.
Writing in The Times on Saturday Dr Rowan Williams said the daily press revelations could erode people's confidence in the political system.
"Many will now be wondering whether the point has not been adequately made," he writes. "The continuing systematic humiliation of politicians itself threatens to carry a heavy price in terms of our ability to salvage some confidence in our democracy."
His comments follow a warning by a frontbench Conservative MP that the Telegraph's incessant campaign against MPs was turning into a “McCarthy-style witch-hunt" and that there was a risk of an MP committing suicide.
Nadine Dorries, a Conservative MP known to most people as a campaigner for a more restrictive abortion law, described how the Telegraph was "picking off a few MPs each day, emailing at noon, giving five hours to reply, recording the conversation, not allowing them to speak, telling them they are going to publish anyway" -- in short, the standard tactics of the journalism pioneered by the Daily Mail, whose personnel have taken over the Telegraph.
In an interesting illustration of how free speech is defended by some newspapers only when it suits them, the Telegraph's lawyers have since shut down her blog.
The expenses scandal, which has acquired a momentum of its own, has claimed its first high-profile Catholic victim. Chris Bain, director of the Catholic aid agency Cafod, for many years shared a house with a government minister who is a Catholic, Paul Goggins. They are both suddenly under the spotlight because Goggins didn't declare his house was shared.