Posts Tagged ‘Mrs Bone’

Friday News Review

08/07/2011, 06:48:05 AM

The news screws no more

From its very first edition in 1843, the News of the World took pride in causing scandal and excitement with its coverage. The paper’s first lead story was a classic Victorian sensation, the lurid tale of a female chemist raped and thrown into the Thames. That same dedication to revealing eye-catching and gut-wrenching details of human misbehaviour would propel the paper to a central place in Britain’s public imagination, and eventually over the cliff-edge to destruction. In 1946, George Orwell’s Decline of the English Murder described an idealised Sunday afternoon thus: “You put your feet up on the sofa, settle your spectacles on your nose, and open the News of the World.” A decade later, it was selling nine million copies each week, making it the biggest-selling newspaper in the English-speaking world. In 1969, it was bought by Rupert Murdoch. Under Mr Murdoch’s guidance, the paper continued to set the pace, first by offering a colour magazine, then by adopting a tabloid format. In 2000, Rebekah Brooks took the chair once held by Sir Emsley Carr, one of the greatest editors in Fleet Street history. She held the post for three years before a promotion to edit The Sun, her place taken by her deputy, Andy Coulson. Under Brooks and then Coulson, the News of the World was a paper at the peak of its powers, trampling over its competition with a string of classic tabloid exclusives: from David Beckham’s affair with his nanny to Prince Harry’s drug-taking, it consistently landed the stories that shocked, titillated and scandalised. – Sydney Morning Herald

James Murdoch, the chairman of News International, which owns the newspaper, announced that the final edition would be published this weekend, citing the “inhuman” alleged behaviour of some staff as prompting the decision. The 168-year-old newspaper will donate all this weekend’s revenues to good causes and would not accept any paid advertising, he said. Hundreds of staff now face an uncertain future. However, Rebekah Brooks, the chief executive of News International and former editor of the News of the World, has been allowed to keep her job despite widespread calls for her to be sacked. Last night she faced angry scenes at the paper as she broke the news to journalists. There were reports she had to be escorted from the offices by security guards for her protection. Rupert Murdoch and his family sacrificed the tabloid as they fought to salvage their company’s attempt to take over BSkyB, the satellite broadcaster, after the scandal resulted in growing political pressure for the Government to block the deal. Last night politicians warned that shutting the newspaper would not shut down the scandal, which they said would only end when those responsible for the hacking were brought to justice. It was made hours after the Metropolitan Police disclosed that more than 4,000 people had been identified as potential victims of private detectives employed by the paper. – Daily Telegraph

Coulson cops it

The Guardian understands that a second arrest is also to be made in the next few days of a former senior journalist at the paper. Leaks from News International forced police to speed up their plans to arrest the two key suspects in the explosive phone-hacking scandal. The Guardian knows the identity of the second suspect but is withholding the name to avoid prejudicing the police investigation. Coulson, who resigned as David Cameron‘s director of communications in January, was contacted on Thursday by detectives and asked to present himself at a police station in central London on Friday, where he will be told that he will be formally questioned under suspicion of involvement in hacking. After being questioned by detectives from Operation Weeting – a process that could take several hours – the former rising star of News International is likely to be released on bail conditions that include appearing at court at a later date along with his three former colleagues who have already been arrested: Ian Edmondson, Neville Thurlbeck and James Weatherup. The arrest will be embarrassing for Cameron, who consistently defended his decision to hire the controversial former journalist amid mounting evidence of his involvement in the hacking scandal. – the Guardian

Former News of the World editor and Downing Street spin chief Andy Coulson is today expected to be arrested over allegations he knew about phone hacking and bribing police officers. He is due to attend a police station ‘by appointment’ to be questioned about suspicions he directed or allowed staff to intercept mobile phone voicemails. Sources say that unless there is a last-minute change of plan, he is also likely to be questioned over claims he authorised the payment by journalists of tens of thousands of pounds to corrupt police officers. Supporters of Mr Coulson, 43, claim he has been ‘hung out to dry’ by News International bosses, including Rebekah Brooks, who is fighting desperately to keep her job. They believe that if he co-operates with police, he could make damaging claims about Mrs Brooks, who edited the News of the World before him, which in turn could result in her being questioned. One source linked to the police investigation said: ‘If Andy Coulson goes down, he could take some very senior people with him. He must know where the bodies are buried at News International.’ – Daily Mail

The end of self regulation?

Labour leader Ed Miliband will today call for the watchdog which oversees complaints about newspaper coverage to be scrapped and replaced. Mr Miliband will challenge the industry to come up with a different and more effective form of self regulation. “The Press Complaints Commission (PCC) has totally failed,” Mr Miliband will say. “It has been exposed as a toothless poodle. It is time to put it out of its misery. A new body would need: far greater independence of its board members from those it regulates; proper investigative powers; and an ability to enforce corrections.” PCC director Stephen Abell said: “It is wrong of Mr Miliband to call for the scrapping of the PCC. His remarks are long on rhetoric and short on substance. He appears to be ignorant of the important and valued work of the PCC.  However, he is right to support self-regulation and to say that the phone-hacking scandal should act as a catalyst for improvement and reform of the industry.  Indeed, he is echoing the statement the PCC itself issued on Wednesday. We join with Mr Miliband in his call for the industry to support reform.  The PCC welcomes the challenge to respond to the issues at stake, and looks forward to discussing this further with Mr Miliband and his team.” – the Scotsman

Enduring image of the day, and, I’ll warrant, its first entry in Hansard*, goes to Liberal Democrat MP Adrian Sanders for his contribution to yesterday’s emergency debate on phone hacking at the News of the World: “…when one considers the Press Complaints Commission, the phrase “chocolate teapot”, or indeed the phrase “fishnet condom”, comes to mind. Our 2007 inquiry had elicited a response from News International that it had carried out a full inquiry itself and was satisfied that the Mulcaire-Goodman case was isolated. That was patently untrue. Our second inquiry encountered more obstacles: Goodman and Mulcaire refused to present evidence, as did Rebekah Brooks. More worrying were the attitude and answers of Scotland Yard. I return to the point that I made to the Prime Minister today. We cannot have confidence in an investigation by the Metropolitan police; we can have confidence only in a full judicial inquiry with a judge who can take witnesses under oath, ask questions under oath, seek papers, and subpoena witnesses to appear. We desperately need that inquiry. Clearly, where there are allegations of criminal acts or there is the potential for collusion between suspects and the police, a more rigorous investigation is required than, sadly, a Select Committee can offer. It is also clear that we need to extend the scope beyond News International.” An exaggerated image to drive home a serious point that it’s time for the Press Complaints Commission to be reformed. You can read the BBC live-blog of the debate here. –

Twitter doesn’t please Mrs Bone

Twitter should find a way of allowing high-profile figures to label fake accounts set up in their own name, a Tory MP for Wellingborough has said, after pranksters started impersonating his wife on the micro-blogging website. Peter Bone has made a long-standing joke of asking questions in the Commons on behalf of his wife Jennie, who he has portrayed as the voice of Middle England. She is a vehement critic of the European Union but it was only when Prime Minister David Cameron remarked that a very big part of his life was spent “trying to give pleasure” to Mrs Bone, that her celebrity hit new heights. And following her regular mentions in newspaper columns it now appears that Mrs Bone has her own account on the micro-blogging site, in which she describes herself as “the voice of the silent majority”. She has more than 100 followers and her tweets include insights such as: “All eyes on PMQs – will Mr Cameron do his best to give me pleasure today? I live in hope.” In another tweet, she writes: “So proud of Peter on BBC News, expressing the horror felt by every right-thinking person on the disgraceful activities of the gutter press.” The only problem for Mr Bone is that his wife, whom he employs as his executive secretary and describes as his “one-woman focus group”, has never set up a Twitter account, and now he wants MPs to debate the problem of impersonation on the website. In a dig at Commons Speaker John Bercow, whose wife Sally is a notorious tweeter, Mr Bone said: “Mr Speaker, I don’t know if you tweet but can I direct you to a site called Mrs Jennie Bone which is being followed by more than 100 people, included journalists and MPs? It’s very interesting and very amusing. There is one slight problem: it’s completely bogus. This seems to me to be a really important issue where people are taking other names and purporting (to be them). They may be saying very interesting and funny things at the moment, but they could put something racist or pornographic on there at any time.” – Market Rasen Mail

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Tuesday News Review

28/06/2011, 06:37:15 AM

University challenge

Universities could be handed over to private firms and run for profit under plans to be announced this week. The Government wants to let companies set up or take over existing colleges and offer student loans. The plans are included in Universities Minister David Willetts’s delayed universities white paper. But a report by the Government-funded Higher Education Funding Council for England warned businesses would be able to cherry-pick the most profitable courses. And it added there was no guarantee they would work to widen the participation of less-profitable students. Sally Hunt of the University and College Union said: “Millions of students face being ripped off by operators whose main interest is their own profits, not education.” – Daily Mirror

Ministers say their plans will sustain the country’s world class universities and improve higher education opportunities. They also argue the proposals – which are linked to those that will triple tuition fees to £9,000 pounds by 2012 – will increase social mobility. As part of the changes, universities will be forced to provide potential students with more information about their entry requirements, job prospects and the quality of teaching. Popular universities will be able to accept any student achieving at least two A grades and a B at A-level – in a move aimed at increasing access and helping the institutions grow. Universities and higher education colleges charging low fees could also be allowed to increase their numbers. It is hoped that would encourage the more expensive establishments to reduce what they charge. And the White Paper is also likely to contain measures to boost the powers of the regulator, the Office for Fair Access (Offa). The watchdog is tasked with ensuring universities do not price out poorer students with higher fees. But the University and College Union warned against reforms that would allow the expansion of private universities, which are not subject to the cap on numbers. – Sky News

Strike breakers

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) has written to schools throughout England and Wales telling them they could be in breach of employment law and health and safety regulations if they keep schools open during the pensions-related dispute. The letter emerged as Downing Street yesterday backed plans for parents to staff classrooms during the walkout, with ministers appearing increasingly determined to face down militant trade unions. David Cameron will make a last-ditch direct appeal to public sector workers today not to go on strike on Thursday, insisting their current pension arrangements are “not fair to the taxpayer”. The Prime Minister will address the Local Government Association’s annual conference to warn council workers and teachers that the “situation is unsustainable” and that they must accept changes. Downing Street sources said that Mr Cameron would be “robust” but would attempt to set out a “fair argument” over why reform of pensions was essential. – Daily Telegraph

People support calls for a change in the law to ban strikes by public sector workers if there is a low turnout in strike ballots, according to a survey for The Independent. They also believe that trade unions will fail to win public sympathy if they carry out their threat to stage co-ordinated strikes in their battle over pensions. Unions vowed last night to press ahead with a strike by up to 750,000 public employees on Thursday, after talks with ministers ended without a last-minute breakthrough. The survey by ComRes found that, by a margin of 50 per cent to 32 per cent, people agreed that the Government should ban public sector strikes unless there has been a turnout of at least 50 per cent in the ballot to approve the industrial action. The finding will increase the pressure on ministers to bring in a legal minimum turnout – an idea favoured by the London Mayor, Boris Johnson, the Confederation of British Industry and some Tory ministers and backbenchers. – the Independent

Fox brings top brass into line

Senior members of the military will lose their jobs if they allow costs to get out of control and fail to manage budgets, under radical reforms to the Ministry of Defence published on Monday. The heads of the army, Royal Navy and RAF will be held accountable as never before, and will also be responsible for making significant cuts to the numbers of officers in their ranks. All three services have become overladen with top brass, according to a report by Lord Levene, chairman of Lloyd’s of London. His proposals have been accepted wholesale by the coalition government, with the defence secretary, Liam Fox, saying the MoD had been bedevilled by poor management. In his 84-page report, Levene noted that inter-service rivalry had added to the problems and recommended the creation of a new joint forces command, headed by a high-ranked military commander, as one way of breaking down the barriers between them. In one startling admission, Levene said the MoD and military chiefs often showed a disregard for costs. “Finance and the need for affordability are not regarded as sufficiently important throughout the organisation,” he said, adding that service chiefs who failed to bring in projects on time and within budget should face the axe.” – the Guardian

What Mrs Bone wants, Mrs Bone gets

Conservative MP Peter Bone, claimed that his wife, Mrs Bone, had been singing the praises of the Prime Minister because the UK would not be involved in the Greek bail-out. He then sought assurances from Mr Cameron on behalf of Mrs Bone, that the UK would not be required to participate in a bail-out before 2013, saying that “she would be very happy if he could give her that undertaking”. Mr Cameron replied that he felt that a very big part of his life “was giving pleasure to Mrs Bone.” And added that on this occasion “he could only go so far”. In March, the Tory MP demanded David Cameron call for a referendum about whether the UK should remain in the EU, saying it would please, among others, Mrs Bone. – Daily Telegraph

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