BROADCASTING regulator Ofcom has cleared Channel 4 of misconduct over its cash-for-access sting on former foreign secretaries Sir Malcolm Rifkind and Jack Straw.

It said the Dispatches programme had not breached the broadcasting code and had represented the MPs’ views in a fair manner.

The ruling followed criticism of the programme by Kathryn Hudson, the parliamentary standards commissioner, after which Channel 4 took the unprecedented step of asking Ofcom to look at the case.

Hudson had cleared Rifkind and Straw of wrongdoing and called into question the accuracy of the reporting.

In the programme, the MPs were secretly filmed by reporters claiming to represent a Hong Kong-based communications agency.

Rifkind was said to have claimed he could arrange “useful access” to every British ambassador in the world because of his status, while Straw boasted of operating “under the radar” to use his influence to change European Union rules on behalf of a commodity firm that paid him £60,000 a year.

However, the regulator found that the documentary did not treat the politicians unjustly or unfairly, had given them an appropriate and timely opportunity to respond to the allegations, and that the secret filming was warranted in the circumstances.

Ofcom said: “The programme was a serious piece of broadcast journalism and there was a significant public interest in the programme makers secretly filming both Sir Malcolm Rifkind and Mr Straw.”