Tuesday News Review

Murdoch £3m offer to the family of Milly Dowler

The family of the murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler have been offered nearly £3m by Rupert Murdoch’s News International as the company tries to draw a line under the single most damaging incident in the phone-hacking scandal. The huge payout, which The Independent understands is to be divided between Milly’s family and charities designated by them, comes after Mr Murdoch held his head in his hands in a meeting with the teenager’s parents this summer and repeatedly apologised for the interception of her voicemails by his News of the World. The revelation in July that the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire accessed Milly’s mobile phone on behalf of NOTW after her disappearance in March 2002 – and that messages were deleted from her phone, giving her family false hope that she was still alive – was a tipping point in the hacking saga, unleashing a wave of public anger and revulsion which ultimately forced the closure of the 168-year-old tabloid. The revelation sparked an unprecedented risis in the Murdoch empire. The main principles of the settlement between NI and the Dowler family have been agreed and the package is expected to be finalised in the coming days. It is likely that Mr Murdoch personally approved the payment to the Dowlers. – the Independent

Cable: Grey skies ahead

The country faces the “economic equivalent of fighting a war” with the global economic crisis worsening, Vince Cable warned the Lib Dem conference in Birmingham. The Business Secretary said that he could see only “grey skies ahead” and that the financial collapse had broken the post-war trend of “ever-rising living standards”. The economy dominated the Liberal Democrats’ annual conference in Birmingham yesterday, where a succession of government ministers stressed the severity of the situation. In his speech, Mr Cable warned that there was little reason for optimism. “Even with a stimulus to support recovery the next few years will be difficult,” he said. “Living standards are being squeezed by continued high imported inflation. And the painful truth is that Britain is a poorer country as a result of the financial crash.” He added: “When my staff saw my draft of this speech they said, ‘we can see the grey skies, where are the sunny uplands?’ I am sorry, I can only tell it as I see it. – the Telegraph

The Business Secretary’s comparison of the economic battle with the Second World War was depressing. He recognises the country is in a financial hole, but his ConDem Government is still digging. I don’t want 10 years of squeezed living standards any more than Cable who is, I admit, a thoughtful chap. Yet to pursue the Coalition’s failed economic policies is utter madness. Yes, the recovery will be built on cars not casinos. The answer, however, isn’t defending 15 months in which the ConDems strangled growth. Politicians are weakened by banksters and assorted gamblers who play roulette with national economies. To be in the recovery game Cable needs to acknowledge deep cuts now are suicidal. He didn’t, so his prophesy will be self-fulfilling, grey economic skies raining austerity for years to come. That is not to deny Cable has a few good ideas. Tackling unearned soaring pay for a wealthy few is one of them. And the Lib Dem’s criticisms of capitalism would never be uttered by a Tory. But the tortured soul in the Business Department needs to get real. If Britain is on the edge of an economic cliff, we must step back. Not wring our hands and shout: “We’re all doomed.” – the Mirror

Gove emails under scrutiny

Education secretary Michael Gove is facing potentially damaging claims that he and his closest advisers have conducted government business using private emails. The emails allegedly include a discussion of replacing personnel in the department but civil servants were unable to find those emails when asked to retrieve them under the Freedom of Information Act, the Financial Times reported. The information commissioner has written to the permanent secretary at the Department for Education to raise concerns about the department’s handling of FOI requests. A spokeswoman for the Information Commissioner’s Office said it was still making inquiries and had not launched an investigation. – the Guardian

Michael Gove and his closest advisers are under scrutiny after Government business was apparently conducted using personal email accounts. The emails allegedly include a discussion of replacing personnel in the department, but civil servants were unable to find the messages when asked to retrieve them under the Freedom of Information Act by theFinancial Times. Moving correspondence to non-official email accounts would mean they could not be scrutinised by anyone through the act. The allegations follow an email sent in February from Dominic Cummings, the Secretary of State’s chief political aide, who wrote to colleagues stating that he “will not answer any further e-mails to my official DfE account”. It added: “i will only answer things that come from gmail accounts from people who i know who they are. i suggest that you do the same in general but thats obv up to you guys – i can explain in person the reason for this …” The Education Secretary’s aides stressed the email was about party political rather than governmental business and did not breach the rules. – the Telegraph

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