Category Archives: Politics

Daily Mail takes after Werrity with dubious use of Fox business card

It seems Adam Werrity isn’t the only one to have been caught using a business card he shouldn’t have. The Daily Mail, unable to obtain their own picture of Werrity’s now-infamous “Advisor to Rt. Hon. Liam Fox MP” card, simply scanned the Guardian’s. But this wasn’t a right-click-save-image-as off the Guardian website, some enterprising staffer at the Mail actually scanned it right off the newspaper. Brilliant.

The copy was spotted by blogger Tim Ireland, who made his discovery after about 10 seconds’ sleuthing. See his damning evidence from Mail Online below.


Martin Moore: seven models for reform of self-regulation

Revelations about the extent of the phone-hacking scandal have fuelled discussion about the state of self-regulation and possible reform. Martin Moore, director of the Media Standards Trust, has created a thought-provoking list of seven possible ways in which the system might be reformed, from scrapping regulation altogether to full statutory regulation. Moore has weighed up some of the pros and cons of each idea and intends for them to serve as a framework for discussion of the issue.

The list:

1. Abolish the PCC, without setting up a replacement
2. Reform the existing PCC
3. Create an independent regulator
4. Extend a watered down Ofcom to cover all major media organisations
5. Create a professional body for journalists
6. Withdraw all media regulation, but reform, extend, reduce and clarify existing media law
7. Create a new statutory regulator for all media

See Moore’s post on the MST website for his introduction and the full reasoning behind each idea.

Leveson inquiry: full list of core particpants

Lord Leveson has today announced the list of those that have been granted ‘core participant’ status in the upcoming Leveson inquiry. Core participants can be legally represented, allowing them to have questions asked on their behalf.

Read the full news article on

Part 1 of the inquiry has been broken down into four modules:

The relationship between the press and the public
The relationship between the press and police
The relationship between the press and politicians
Recommendations for the future

The following organisations have been granted core participant status for Part 1, Modules 1, 2, 3, and 4:

The Metropolitan Police
News International (publisher of the Sun, the Times, the Sunday Times, and the now-defunct News of the World)
Northern & Shell (publisher of the the Daily Express, the Sunday Express, the Daily Star and the Daily Star Sunday)
Guardian News & Media (publisher of the Guardian and the Observer)
Associated Newspapers (publisher of the Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday)

The following individuals who believe they may have been victims of phone hacking have been granted core participant status for Part 1, Module 1 of the inquiry. All 46 will have to be represented by a single legal representative:

1    Chris Bryant MP
2    Tessa Jowell MP
3    Denis MacShane MP
4    The Rt Hon Lord Prescott of Kingston upon Hull
5    Joan Smith
6    Christopher Shipman
7    Tom Rowland
8    Mark Lewis
9    Mark Thomson
10    Gerry McCann
11    Kate McCann
12    Christopher Jefferies
13    Max Moseley
14    Brian Paddick
15    Paul Gascoigne
16    David Mills
17    Sienna Miller
18    Hugh Grant
19    Ben Jackson
20    Ciara Parkes
21    Simon Hughes MP
22    Max Clifford
23    Sky Andrew
24    Ulrika Jonsson
25    Mark Oaten
26    Michele Milburn
27    Abi Titmuss
28    Calum Best
29    Claire Ward
30    Mary-Ellen Field
31    Gary Flitcroft
32    Ian Hurst
33    Shobna Gulati
34    Mike Hollingsworth
35    Kieron Fallon
36    Ashvini Sharma
37    Tim Blackstone
38    Valatina Semenenko
39    Sally Dowler
40    Bob Dowler
41    Gemma Dowler
42    Sheryl Gascoigne
43    Graham Shear
44    JK Rowling
45    James Watson
46    Margaret Watson

Labour calls for amendments to media takeover rules

Labour is calling for an “emergency” amendment to the law in relation to media takeovers to give ministers greater power to intervene, following News Corporation’s bid for BSkyB.

According to an announcement by the party on Sunday (28 August) it hopes to “close legal loopholes” identified during News Corporation’s bid for BSkyB, before the conclusion of the Leveson inquiry. News Corporation eventually withdrew its bid as phone hacking allegations continued to be mounted against its now-closed News of the World title.

Under the proposed amendments to Section 58 of the Enterprise Act 2002, outlined by shadow culture secretary Ivan Lewis in a letter to culture secretary Jeremy Hunt and Liberal Democrat MP Don Foster, ministers would be given powers to ask regulators to apply “a wide ranging public interest test as well as a fit and proper person test”, from the start.

The changes also call for ministers to be able to intervene at any stage “if new information came to light”. Lewis will put these proposed measures before both the House of Commons and House of Lords when the summer recess ends in less than a week.

Petition for Hillsborough papers release exceeds 120,000 signatures

The BBC reported yesterday that an online petition calling for cabinet papers relating to the Hillsborough disaster to be released had collected 100,000 signatures, which is the amount required for the issue to be considered for a debate in parliament.

This number has continued to rise and is currently over the 120,000 mark.

The papers in question are said to contain details of conversations involving former prime minister Margaret Thatcher about the Hillsborough disaster. The BBC originally requested that the papers be released through a freedom of information request two years ago.

Last month the information commissioner Sir Christopher Graham ruled that there was a public interest in the information being released. It also accused the authority of an “excessive delay” in responding to the original request, which was then to deny the release of the information under a series of exemptions.

The Cabinet Office has since appealed the decision, the BBC reports in this article.

Trinity Mirror Regional’s head of multimedia David Higgerson blogs here about the potential impact of the ultimate decision on the government’s claims of transparency and openness.

… it’s only by seeing the documents in full that we’ll know the current government believes in true openness – an openness where the agenda is set by the public, not by the civil servants.

Audio: Norwegian journalist describes explosion

In the audio below we speak to Norwegian journalist Kristine Lowe about the explosion in Oslo this afternoon (22 July). Lowe was working in the VG newspaper offices located opposite a government building seriously damaged when the attack took place.

The newspaper offices were also damaged in the attack, she told us.

Read our report on the explosion here.

Phone hacking update: Ex-employees ‘clarify’ Murdoch evidence

Chairman of News International, James Murdoch, was yesterday (21 July) seemingly forced to defend evidence he gave to the culture, media and sport select committee on Tuesday, after it was called into question by two former employees – ex-News of the World editor Colin Myler and lawyer Tom Crone.

According to reports, last night Crone and Myler released a statement seeking to “clarify” a significant piece of Murdoch’s evidence.

In the committee session, MP Tom Watson had asked James Murdoch if, when he signed off a settlement payment to Gordon Taylor, he had seen or was made aware of an email “suggesting hacking was more widespread than had been admitted”. And James Murdoch replied no, “I was not aware of that at the time”.

But in their statement, Myler and Crone claim his recollection of what he was told “was mistaken”.

In fact, we did inform him of the ‘for Neville’ email which had been produced to us by Gordon Taylor’s lawyers.

Following Myler and Crone’s statement, Murdoch issues a single line statement: “I stand behind my testimony to the select committee.”

According to a BBC report, Watson has said he will now ask police to investigate this evidence, while committee chair John Whittingdale, was quoted as saying that it will be asking Murdoch to respond and clarify this.

Select committees: Reaction to appearances by police, the Murdochs and Brooks

The focus on Twitter seemed to be entirely on the appearance of Murdoch and son, Rebekah Brooks and two senior Metropolitan police officers at two parliament select committees yesterday (19 July).

Sir Paul Stephenson and John Yates appeared before the home affairs select committee, before Rupert and James Murdoch – and then Rebekah Brooks – came before the culture, media and sport committee.

Below is a Storify to show some of the reaction on Twitter to MPs’ questions and the responses MPs received.

Prime Minister’s statement to House of Commons in full

David Cameron recalled MPs before the summer recess to discuss the developing issues relating to phone hacking.

Here is his full statement read to the House of Commons before the debate:

With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement.

Over the past two weeks, a torrent of revelations and allegations has engulfed some of this country’s most important institutions.

It has shaken people’s trust in the media and the legality of what they do, in the police and their ability to investigate media malpractice, and, yes, in politics and in politicians’ ability to get to grips with these issues.

People desperately want us to put a stop to the illegal practices, to ensure the independence and effectiveness of the police and to establish a more healthy relationship between politicians and media owners.

Above all, they want us to act on behalf of the victims: people who have suffered dreadfully – including through murder and terrorism – and who have had to re-live that agony all over again because of phone hacking.

The public want us to work together to sort this problem out, because until we do so it will not be possible to get back to the issues they care about even more, getting our economy moving, creating jobs, helping with the cost of living, protecting them from terrorism, restoring fairness to our welfare and immigration systems.

Let me set out the action that we have taken.

We now have a well-led police investigation which will examine criminal behaviour by the media and corruption in the police.

We’ve set up a wide-ranging and independent judicial inquiry under Lord Justice Leveson to establish what went wrong, why and what we need to do to ensure it never happens again.

I am the first prime minister to publish meetings with media editors, proprietors and senior executives to bring complete transparency to the relationship between government ministers and the media – stretching right back to the general election.

And the House of Commons, by speaking so clearly about its revulsion at the phone-hacking allegations, helped to cause the end of the News Corp bid for the rest of BSkyB.

Today, I would like to update the house on the action that we are taking.

First, on the make-up and remit of the public inquiry.

And second, on issues concerning the police service.

And third, I will answer – I am afraid Mr Speaker at some length – all of the key questions that have been raised about my role and that of my staff.

So first, the judicial inquiry and the panel of experts who will assist it.

Those experts will be:

The civil liberties campaigner and director of Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti;

The former chief constable of the West Midlands, Sir Paul Scott-Lee;

The former chairman of OfCOM, Lord David Currie;

The longserving former political editor of Channel 4 news, Elinor Goodman;

The former political editor of the Daily Telegraph, and fomer special correspondent of the press association, George Jones;

And the former chairman of the Financial Times, Sir David Bell.

These people have been chosen not only for their expertise in the media, broadcasting, regulation and policing, but for their complete independence from the interested parties.

Mr Speaker, I also said last week that the inquiry will proceed in two parts and I set out a draft terms of reference.

We have consulted with Lord Justice Leveson, with the opposition, the chairs of relevant select committees and the devolved administrations.

I also talked to the family of Milly Dowler and the Hacked Off campaign.

We have made some significant amendments to the remit of the inquiry.

With allegations that the problem of the relationship between the press and the police goes wider than just the Met, we have agreed that other relevant forces will now be within the scope of the inquiry.

We have agreed that the inquiry should consider not just the relationship between the press, police and politicians but their individual conduct too.

And we have also made clear that the inquiry should look at not just the press but other media organisations – including broadcasters and social media – if there is any evidence that they have been involved in criminal activities.

I am today placing in the library of the house the final terms of reference.

Lord Justice Leveson and the panel will get to work immediately.

He will aim to make a report on the first part of the inquiry within 12 months.

Mr Speaker, there should be no doubt:

This public inquiry is as robust as possible.

It is fully independent.

Lord Justice Leveson will be able to summon witnesses under oath.

Mr Speaker, let me now turn to the extraordinary events we have seen over the past few days at Britain’s largest police force – the Met.

On Sunday, Sir Paul Stephenson resigned as commissioner of the Metropolitan police.

I want to thank him for the work he has carried out in policing over many, many years in London and elsewhere.

On Monday, assistant commissioner John Yates also resigned and again I want to express my gratitude for the work he has done, especially in improving our response to terrorism.

Given the sudden departure of two such senior officers, the first concern must be to ensure the effective policing of our capital – and that confidence in that policing – is maintained.

I have asked the home secretary and mayor of London to ensure that the responsibilities of the Met will continue seamlessly.

The current deputy commissioner – Tim Godwin – who stood in for Paul Stephenson when he was ill, and did a good job, will shortly do so again.

The vital counter-terrorism job, carried out by John Yates, will be taken on by the highly experienced Cressida Dick.

The responsibilities of the deputy commissioner – which the house will remember include general oversight of the vital investigations both into hacking and into the police – Operations Weeting and Elveden will not be done by someone from inside the Met, but instead by Bernard Hogan-Howe who will join temporarily from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary.

We are also looking to speed up the process for selecting and appointing the next commissioner.

But Mr Speaker, we cannot hope that a change in personnel at the top of the Met is enough.

The simple fact is that this whole affair raises huge issues about the ethics and practices of our police.

Let me state plainly – the vast majority of our police officers are beyond reproach, and serve the public with distinction.

But police corruption must be rooted out.

Operation Elveden and Lord Justice Leveson’s inquiry are charged with doing just this.

But I believe we can, and must, do more.

Put simply there are two problems.

First, a perception that when problems arise it is still “the police investigating the police”.

And second a lack of transparency in terms of police contacts with the media

We are acting on both.

These were precisely the two points that my Rt Hon Friend the home secretary addressed in her statement to this house on Monday.

We believe this crisis calls for us to stand back and take another, broader look at the whole culture of policing in this country, including the way it is led.

At the moment, the police system is too closed.

There is only one point of entry into the force.

There are too few – and arguably too similar – candidates for the top jobs.

As everyone knows, Tom Winsor is looking into police careers, and I want to see radical proposals for how we can open up our police force and bring in fresh leadership.

The government is introducing elected police and crime commissioners, ensuring there is an individual holding their local force to account on behalf of local people.

And we need to see if we can extend that openness to the operational side too.

Why should all police officers have to start at the same level?

Why shouldn’t someone with a different skill-set be able to join the police force in a senior role?

Why shouldn’t someone, who has been a proven success overseas, be able to help turn around a force at home?

I think these are questions we must ask to achieve the greater transparency and stronger corporate governance that we need in Britain’s policing.

Finally let me turn to the specific questions I have been asked in recent days.

First, it has been suggested that my chief of staff was behaving wrongly when he didn’t take up then assistant commissioner Yates’s offer to be briefed on police investigations around phone hacking.

I have said repeatedly about the police investigation that they should purse the evidence wherever it leads and arrest exactly who they wish.

And that is exactly what they have done.

No 10 has now published the full email exchange between my chief of staff and John Yates and it shows my staff behaved entirely properly.

Ed Llewellyn’s reply to the police made clear that it would be not be appropriate to give me or my staff any privileged briefing.

The reply that he sent was cleared in advance by my permanent secretary, Jeremy Heywood.

Just imagine, Mr Speaker if they had done the opposite and asked for, or acquiesced in receiving privileged information – even if there was no intention to use it.

There would have been quite justified outrage.

To risk any perception that No 10 was seeking to influence a sensitive police investigation in any way would have been completely wrong.

Mr Yates and Sir Paul both backed this judgment in their evidence yesterday.

Indeed, as John Yates said: “The offer was properly and understandably rejected.”

The cabinet secretary and the chair of the home affairs select committee have both now backed that judgement too.

Next, there is the question as to whether the ministerial code was broken in relation to the BSkyB merger and meetings with News International executives.

The cabinet secretary has ruled very clearly that the code was not broken – not least because I had asked to be entirely excluded from the decision.

Next, I would like to set the record straight on another question that arose yesterday – whether the Conservative Party had also employed Neil Wallis.

The Conservative Party chairman has ensured that all the accounts have been gone through and has confirmed to me that neither Neil Wallis nor his company has ever been employed by or contracted by the Conservative Party – nor has the Conservative Party made payments to either of them.

It has been drawn to our attention that he may have provided Andy Coulson with some informal advice on a voluntary basis before the election.

To the best of my knowledge I didn’t know anything about this until Sunday night.

But as with revealing this information, we will be entirely transparent about this issue.

Finally Mr Speaker, there is the question whether everyone – the media, the police, politicians – is taking responsibility in an appropriate manner.

I want to address my own responsibilities very directly – and that brings me to my decision to employ Andy Coulson.

I have said very clearly that if it turns out Andy Coulson knew about the hacking at the News of the World he will not only have lied to me but he will have lied to the police, to a select committee, to the Press Complaints Commission and, of course, perjured himself in a court of law.

More to the point, if that comes to pass, he could also expect to face severe criminal charges.

I have an old fashioned view about “innocent until proven guilty”.

But if it turns out I have been lied to, that would be a moment for a profound apology.

And, in that event, I can tell you I will not fall short.

My responsibilities are for hiring him – and for the work he did in Downing Street.

On the work he did, I will repeat, perhaps not for the last time, that his work at Downing Street has not been the subject of any serious complaint.

And, of course, he left months ago.

On the decision to hire him, I believe I have answered every question about this.

It was my decision. I take responsibility.

People will, of course, make judgements about it.

Of course I regret and I am extremely sorry about the furore it has caused.

With 20:20 hindsight – and all that has followed – I would not have offered him the job and I expect that he wouldn’t have taken it.

But you don’t make decisions in hindsight; you make them in the present.

You live and you learn – and believe you me, I have learnt.

I look forward to answering any and all questions about these issues – and following the statement I will open the debate.

But the greatest responsibility I have is to clear up this mess – so let me finish by saying this.

There are accusations of criminal behaviour – by parts of the press and potentially by the police where the most rapid and decisive action is required.

There are the issues of excessive closeness to media groups and media owners where both Labour and Conservative have to make a fresh start.

There is the history of missed warnings – select committee reports, information commissioner reports – missed by the last government but yes also missed by the official opposition too.

What the public expects is not petty point scoring, but what they want, what they deserve, is concerted action to rise to the level of events and pledge to work together to sort this issue once and for all.

And it is in that spirit that I commend this statement to the house.

Murdoch humble, but saved the spectacle of being forced to eat pie…

In case you missed it earlier, here’s the video clip of an attempted foam pie-ing of Rupert Murdoch during today’s culture, media and sport select committee at the House of Commons. The real star is Murdoch’s wife Wendi Deng whose lightning reaction ensured the assailant ended up with most of the foam on his own face.

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