Thursday News Review

Senior NOTW executive suspended over hacking allegations

A senior editor at News of the World has been suspended while investigations into allegations that he was involved in?continue?A senior editor at News of the World has been suspended while investigations phone-hacking in 2005, the newspaper said on Wednesday. People familiar with the situation said Ian Edmondson, head of news at the Sunday tabloid since that year, was suspended after being named in a High Court document as having commissioned a private detective to intercept voicemail messages of the actress Sienna Miller. His suspension once again shines a spotlight on a case that has put pressure on Mr Edmondson’s former editor, and the man who hired him, Andy Coulson, now director of communications for David Cameron. – FT

The suspension of Ian Edmondson by the News of the World raises obvious questions for the paper’s ultimate owner, Rupert Murdoch, for the prime minister and, perhaps most of all, for the Met police. Edmondson was hired, initially as associate news editor, by its then editor Andy Coulson – a man who now sits at David Cameron’s side. A suspension is not an admission of guilt, but if it is proved, either in court or during the course of the paper’s own investigation, that Edmondson obtained stories acquired by phone hacking, it will cast serious doubt on repeated assertions by Coulson – now No 10’s director of communications – that he knew nothing about the extent of the practice while he edited the paper. It is Scotland Yard, however, which may face the most difficult questions. When they first raided the office and home of private investigator Glenn Mulcaire in August 2006, police found transcripts of messages apparently obtained by hacking into mobile phones belonging to dozens of public figures. The court case that resulted from this involved only Mulcaire and the paper’s then royal editor, Clive Goodman. – The Guardian

The news agenda changes fast in tabloid journalism but Hackgate has been a story that refuses to go away. When the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire and the News of the World journalist Clive Goodman were jailed for conspiring to intercept the voicemails of members of the royal household, Wapping quickly closed ranks. The editor Andy Coulson was obliged to fall on his sword – while denying knowledge of illegality – and Goodman was condemned as a rogue operator. Mr Murdoch’s close henchman Les Hinton assured MPs that the affair had been dealt with and when, two years later, Mr Coulson – by now director of communications for David Cameron – appeared before a renewed parliamentary inquiry he seemed confident of being fireproof. “We did not use subterfuge of any kind unless there was a clear public interest in doing so,” he told MPs. When Scotland Yard concluded that, despite more allegations of hacking, there was nothing new to investigate, Wapping and Mr Coulson must again have concluded the affair was over. But after an election campaign in which the Conservatives were roundly supported by Mr Murdoch’s papers, a succession of further claimants against the News of the World has come forward. Sienna Miller, among others, seems determined to take her case to court, compelling Mulcaire to reveal his handlers and naming in court documents Ian Edmondson, once one of Coulson’s executives. Mr Edmondson is now suspended. But the story is unlikely to end there. – Independent

Tory rebels join with Labour over prison votes

The Coalition Government could be forced to water down controversial plans to allow prisoners to vote in elections as Conservative MPs prepare to join forces with Labour to sabotage the proposal. The threat of a Tory rebellion grew as ministers disclosed that 28,770 prisoners would be entitled to vote under their plans – including 5,991 convicted of violence against the person, 1,753 of sexual offences, 2,486 of robbery and 4,188 of burglary. Following a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights, ministers propose to lift the ban on votes for prisoners for those serving jail sentences of up to four years. Although David Cameron stressed he was doing so reluctantly, the Liberal Democrats have long argued that prisoners should not be denied the right to vote. Labour delayed a decision on implementing the Court’s ruling before last May’s election but is now ready to form an unlikely alliance with Tory MPs in an attempt to force a U-turn. More than 40 Tories are said to oppose the Government’s plan – potentially enough to defeat it with the backing of the Labour Opposition. – Independent

One Tory MP has told PoliticsHome prisoners votes would “wreck” the Conservatives’ reputation on crime after Labour claimed that 28,770 prisoners – including violent criminals and sex offenders – have been given the right following a Government announcement last month. The MP said: “6,000 violent offenders and nearly 1800 sex offenders getting the vote. There’s no way I’m voting for that. It will wreck our reputation on crime.” Shadow Justice Secretary, Sadiq Khan, described the figure as a “slap in the face for victims of crime.” – PoliticsHome

Philip Hollobone, the Eurosceptic Tory MP for Kettering, is to intensify pressure on the government to restore the ban when he holds a debate at Westminster Hall next week. Hollobone said: “There is no reason at all for the government to change the status quo. Just because the European court has made a pronouncement doesn’t mean that the British government needs to accept that. Anyway, the British parliament decided these matters in 1870 – 75 years before the European court was established. “The idea that the British parliament hasn’t talked about this issue, which was mentioned in the European court judgment, is ludicrous. It was the 1870 forfeiture act which said prisoners shouldn’t have the right to vote. “I really don’t see why the Conservative party should be forced to accept a LibDem manifesto commitment. The vast majority of my constituents are absolutely appalled at the idea of prisoners being given the right to vote.” – The Guardian

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