David Cameron did not have an easy PMQs today. Ed Miliband took the most of the opportunity and made him squirm over phone hacking at the News of the World.
There is no reason Labour should necessarily be making the running on this: it is essentially a non-political matter that politicians could unite behind to give journalists a good kicking. And that’s what Cameron tried to do: backing calls for a public inquiry into the allegations and inviting the other party leaders for talks on how that inquiry should proceed.
The problem is that he is on the back foot about other elements of this story: the bid by News Corp for BSkyB and his relationship with both Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks. Read more
Coverage as it happened of Wednesday’s prime minister’s questions and the parliamentary debate on phone hacking at the News of the World. The debate followed shock allegations that the tabloid hacked into the mobile phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler. Read more
The Guardian yesterday ran a fascinating story on their front page about how Sir Gus O’Donnell, head of the civil service, had “blocked” an attempt by Gordon Brown to hold a judicial review into phone hacking. We followed up the story on ft.com this morning.
Here are a few extra details which did not make the final cut and may be of interest: Read more
So far the News of the World phone hacking affair has run largely along party lines. Labour MPs have lined up to call for various inquiries and investigations, while the Tories and Lib Dems have kept largely silent, with Number 10 issuing denials that Andy Coulson knew anything about the hacking that we do know took place.
Today that changed. A fired up Commons has voted unanimously to refer the matter to the committee on standards and privileges, the most powerful Commons committee, and one which has the power to subpoena witnesses. Read more
The Andy Coulson phone hacking affair is in danger of descending into a political slanging match, when it is actually much more important than that. It is about press practices, the rule of law, personal privacy – not just the Coulson’s future as David Cameron chief spinner.
These are all issues one might expect Liberal Democrats to get excited about. But the party bigwigs have been silent on the matter – a far cry from before the election, when Chris Huhne said:
Andy Coulson’s defence is that he did not know what was going on despite the mounting evidence that his newsroom was widely using illegal phone hacking. Either he was complicit in crime, or he was one of the most incompetent Fleet Street editors of modern times. Neither should be a top recommendation to David Cameron.
A dramatic day already in the Commons, and the AV debate has only just begun. Theresa May has just been forced to answer an urgent question from Labour’s Tom Watson on the allegations of phone hacking at the News of the World.
During that session, Tom Watson made a prety extraordinary claim: that Tony Blair has written to the Met to ask if he was a victim of phone hacking.
In one way, this shouldn’t be surprising – Tony Blair was the highest-profile public figure at the time, and it is only natural that he should at least ask whether he was on as list found by investigators back in 2006 belonging to the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire. After all, if John Prescott, his deputy, believes he was hacked, why shouldn’t Blair? Read more