Friday News Review

“A new low”

The News of the World hacked a phone belonging to Sarah Payne’s mother – which was given to her by then editor Rebekah Brooks, it was claimed yesterday. Scotland Yard have told Sara – mother of the eight-year-old schoolgirl murdered by Roy Whiting – that the mobile may have been targeted by the newspaper. They said they had found evidence suggesting she was hacked by News of the World ­investigator Glenn Mulcaire. Friends of Sara Payne said that she is “absolutely ­devastated and deeply ­disappointed” at the news. The newspaper – and particularly Rebekah Brooks – had championed Sara’s campaign for Sarah’s Law. Sara even wrote a column for the paper’s final edition, calling their staff “my good and trusted friends”. Labour MP Tom Watson said: “This is a new low. The last edition of the News of the World made great play of the paper’s ­relationship with the Payne family. Brooks talked about it at the committee inquiry. Now this. I have nothing but contempt for the people that did this.” –  Daily Mirror

I want you back

Labour MP Tom Watson said he would also call for ex-News of the World editor Colin Myler and the paper’s ex-legal manager Tom Crone to answer questions. Mr Murdoch told MPs he had not been “aware” of an email suggesting hacking went wider than a “rogue” NoW reporter. Mr Myler and Mr Crone have both disputed this. Mr Murdoch later said he “stands by his testimony” to the committee. Mr Watson told BBC Two’s Newsnight programme he would make the recall requests to the committee on Friday “so that we can get to the bottom of this, find the facts and Parliament can then move on and let the police do their inquiry”. The committee is due to hold an internal meeting, which will be closed to the public, on Friday morning. – BBC News

Lord Leveson sets out inquiry plans

The man appointed to lead the judicial inquiry into phone hacking and press standards last night warned newspapers not to “close ranks” but help him expose the “depth” of journalistic malpractice. In his first public comments since being appointed, Lord Justice Leveson said he intended to call “waves” of witnesses including journalists, politicians and policemen starting in autumn. He also warned that the expansion of the terms of reference of his inquiry had been so broadened that he might not be able to complete the first part of the inquiry within the planned timescale of a year. Lord Justice Leveson met for the first time formally with the other members of his inquiry panel yesterday and read a statement outlining the procedures and time-scale for the first section of the inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press. The second section of the inquiry will look at the specific phone-hacking allegations that arose in the wake of the scandal at the News of the World but will only begin once police investigations have been completed. A series of seminars will be held in October looking at law, media ethics and the practice and pressures of investigative journalism for broadsheet and tabloid newspapers. – the Independent

“Die or go private”

NHS managers are deliberately delaying operations in the hope patients will either die or go private in a ‘callous’ attempt to save money, it was claimed yesterday.  Health service trusts are ‘likely to impose greater pain and inconvenience’ by making those in need of care wait longer than necessary for surgery, an official report found. By making patients wait sometimes for as long as four months, it is hoped they will remove themselves from lists ‘either by dying or by paying for their own treatment’.  The claims are outlined in a report by the Co-operation and Competition Panel (CCP), an independent watchdog that advises the NHS.  With NHS bosses having to make £20billion of savings by 2014, the organisation discovered damning evidence that managers are imposing minimum waiting times and ‘excessively constraining’ patients’ rights to choose where to have routine operations, such as hip replacements. – Daily Mail

Shapps in housing U-turn

The government has revised instructions to the social housing regulator to explicitly state that flexible tenancies should normally last a minimum of five years. Under an updated draft direction on tenure social landlords will be required to set out any circumstances in which they will offer tenancies of less than five years in their tenancy policies. The previous version of the draft direction stated that two-year tenancies, which are the shortest that will be permitted under the Localism Bill, should only be used in exceptional circumstances. It did not state what these circumstances would be, or that five-years would otherwise be the minimum. Before the directions to the regulator were published housing minister Grant Shapps had told MPs that five years would be the norm. The omission of this statement from the draft directions when they were first published in July prompted Labour MP Nick Raynsford to accuse him of ‘a disgraceful breach of his own promise’ and call for him to explain his actions to parliament. – Inside Housing

An Autum of discontent?

Leaders of teachers, nurses, civil servants, firefighters and other public sector workers claimed they were being “frogmarched” into co-ordinated strike action after the Treasury took the surprise step of setting out in detail how much individuals will have to pay in contributions to their pension schemes from next April. The overall cost of £1.2bn is broadly as expected, but senior union sources said “we had no warning of this co-ordinated announcement for each scheme, or that it would be leaked to the Telegraph and the Sun laced with the usual rhetoric about ‘gold-plated pensions‘.” Union leaders said they were convinced some ministers, including Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude and health secretary Andrew Lansley, remain committed to a negotiated settlement before the new regime is introduced next April, but they questioned whether Treasury ministers were only interested in cash savings. Unison leader Dave Prentis accused Alexander of “crude and naive tactics”, urging ministers to “stop treating these talks like some kind of playground game”. – the Guardian

Tories outspend Labour

The Conservative Party spent £15 million more than Labour last year, according to official figures. The Tories spent £49,205,000 during 2010, including on the general election campaign, while Labour spent £33,840,000, the Electoral Commission said. As the independent party funding watchdog published the financial accounts of the main political parties, the British National Party (BNP) and Christian Party were warned they could face substantial fines for failing to submit their accounts on time. The figures show that the Conservative Party received income of £43,143,000, suffering an overall loss over 2010, while Labour received £36,270,000. And the Liberal Democrats spent £9,973,077 over the year, with an income of £9,637,354. – Huffington Post

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