Posts Tagged ‘News of the World’

It’s time for Labour to stop hating Rupert Murdoch

22/01/2015, 01:02:27 PM

by Samuel Dale

Labour MPs were cock-a-hoop at the start of the week about the Sun’s decision to quietly stop publishing photographs of topless women on Page 3.

Page 3 is a rather vulgar intrusion on the editorial of a best-selling national newspaper but part of me feels it is free to publish what it likes. However, there is a legitimate debate to be had around the image it projects and campaigners fought and clearly convinced Sun readers, advertisers and editors that it is outdated. Well done.

But then it went wrong as the Sun cheekily re-introduced topless women to its third page today to the dismay of campaigners. Don’t be fooled, this is merely the twitching corpse of a dying and outdated feature. It’s days are numbered.

For many in Labour though Page 3 is a figleaf. The real target of the campaign is the old enemy, Rupert Murdoch and News Corporation, for whom a special hatred is reserved.

Labour has no major campaign against bare breasted women in the Daily Star, for example, it is Murdoch who drives the passion.

The hatred can be irrational such as attacks on Ed Miliband for supporting a Help for Heroes campaign in the Sun for wounded soldiers. Ridiculously, he apologised for it.

After all these years, why does Labour still hate Murdoch and News Corp with such a passion?

Supporting Thatcher. The printworkers’ strike. Buying the Times. Attacking Tony Benn in the 1980s. Media dominance. Billionaire. Hillsborough. Tabloid slurs against LBGTs and mental health issues. Kinnock in 1992. Faustian pact with New Labour. Fox News. Brown in 2009. Phone Hacking.

Yes, there are many reasons for Labour to hate Murdoch but notice one thing about all these events: they are over.


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Commons sketch: PMQs

13/07/2011, 01:53:18 PM

by Dan Hodges

Westminster. Noon. Prime minister’s questions.

Or was it? The Commons was agog with anticipation. Would he show or wouldn’t he?

David Cameron once bestrode the chamber like a colossus. Back when the News of the World was Britain’s best selling newspaper, the Metropolitan Police was still renowned for its tenacious and fearless pursuit of criminals, and Kay Burley and Adam Boulton were united in mutual professional respect.

Not any more. Over the past week there’s been more chance of spotting a unicorn standing at the House of Commons dispatch box than the prime minister.

Some wild rumours were flying.  David Cameron would be unable to attend because of a pressing prior engagement; like a speech on the big society, or washing his hair. William Hague would be standing in. Or poor Jeremy Hunt.

Personally, I was hoping he’d send Andy Hayman. “Nah, nah. I’m not ‘aving it. I’m not letting the right honourable gentleman get away with that”.

Sadly it wasn’t to be. Just before twelve a familiar figure appeared and took his seat on the government benches.

At least, it appeared it be a familiar figure. It looked like David Cameron.  Spoke like David Cameron. Went pink in the face like David Cameron.

But could it really be him? Only the week before the old prime minister had accused Ed Miliband of opportunism for attempting to link phone-hacking to Rupert Murdoch’s BSkyB bid. Yet according to the new guy “It has become increasingly clear that while everybody to start with wanted in some way to separate what was happening at News International and what was happening at BSkyB that is simply not possible. What has happened at this company is disgraceful, it should be stopped at every level, and they should stop thinking about mergers and sort out the mess they’ve created”.

Old Dave had refused to call for Rebekah Brooks to resign. The new fella seemed to think she’d already done so, and what’s more, he welcomed it; “She was right to resign. That resignation should have been accepted”.

If Ed Miliband was fazed by the appearance of this prime ministerial doppelganger he didn’t show it. Then again, he’s undergone a bit of transformation himself. This time last week many in his own party were accusing him of being the new Ramsay McDonald for his betrayal of striking public sector workers. Today the public sector workers could go hang. The only pensions the Labour party was interested in were those of Murdoch and Brooks. And it wanted them drawing them in double quick time; “It would be quite wrong for them to expand their stake in the British media”, Miliband said, “Rupert Murdoch should drop his bid for BSkyB, should recognise the world has changed, and he should listen to this House of Commons”.

New Cameron agreed. He welcomed the cross-party approach being adopted by the leader of the opposition.

Ed Miliband rose again. This time he was wearing an expression of almost pained sincerity that left no one in any doubt that the time for cross party consensus  was over. Could the prime minister clear up one specific issue. Why was his former press secretary Andy Coulson a liar, a cheat, a blagger, a bounder, a baby snatcher, a forger, a cattle rustler, a grave robber and a teller of tall tales. Oh, and why had the prime minister been so unbelievably stupid in employing him?

Last week this sudden switch from civility to attack had thrown David Cameron. But that was a lifetime ago. And New Cameron was ready.

When Coulson had been employed he’d given him assurances. Not only that, he’d given those same assurances to the police, a select committee and under oath to a court of law; “if it turns out he lied it wont just be that he shouldn’t have been in government, it would be that he should be prosecuted. But Mr Speaker, we must stick to the principle that you are innocent until proven guilty”.

It may be that Ed Miliband was expecting a more evasive response. Or that in the excitement of the last week, he’s begun to believe Cameron was a broken opponent. For whatever reason, the confidence visibly began to drip away from him; “Mr Speaker, he just doesn’t get it”, he said, falling back on that well worn phrase he uses when he can’t think of a more spontaneous riposte. The Tory back-benches, sensing it, bayed in relief.

“I’m afraid, Mr Speaker, the person who is not getting it is the leader of the opposition”, responded New Cam. “What the public want us to do is address this firestorm. They want us to sort out bad practices at the media. They want us to fix the corruption in the police. They want a proper public enquiry”.

The world had indeed changed. But maybe not quite as much as we thought.

Dan Hodges is contributing editor of Labour Uncut.

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We are communitarians, so Miliband can lead us as Cameron can’t

13/07/2011, 08:10:46 AM

by Jonathan Todd

“We know no spectacle so ridiculous as the British public in one of its periodical fits of morality”.

Denis MacShane sought to console speaker Martin by writing to him with the words of Thomas Babington Macaulay at the height of the expenses scandal. But was this quotation really appropriate?

Weren’t the British people right to be aggrieved by elected representatives defrauding them? Aren’t they also legitimately angry with, as Ed Miliband put it, “bankers who caused the global financial crisis” and “those on benefits who were abusing the system because they could work – but didn’t”? And can there be any doubt that the revulsion of the public against the News of the World is justified?

The spikes in outrage against fiddling politicians and phone-hacking journalists, as well as the slower burning resentment at welfare cheats and fat cat financiers, makes a nonsense of Macaulay. The people he mocks instinctively know right from wrong. And in this intuitive grasp we see ourselves for what we are: communitarians.

The philosopher Julian Baggini foreswore ivory towers and spent six months with the people of Rotherham before concluding that this is the philosophy of the English. It was, incidentally, in the same town that Gerry Robinson tried to “fix the NHS” and Jamie Oliver “taught the poor to cook”. This is a worldview that stresses the responsibilities of the individual to the community. Membership of the community entitles rights and privileges but responsibility demands that these be reciprocated.

We are a nation that wants to see itself made up of; hard working families who play by the rules. We want those who play by the rules to be supported and to get on. We want those who don’t to be punished. The ascendency of Thatcherism, with its win-at-whatever-cost individualism, has obscured the extent to which we see ourselves as members of social groups to which we owe allegiance and the execution of responsibility.

Those who can work have a responsibility to do so. Those who can work but don’t should be penalised. Law makers have a responsibility not to be law breakers. Just like everyone else, including journalists and bankers. And they should feel the full force of the law when in breach of it. These professions are, however, held to more exacting standards of responsibility than legal compliance alone. Their integrity demands more than this. The irresponsibility of hacking the phones of grieving families is about much more than breaking the law.

As Ed Miliband’s advisor Greg Beales tweeted last Wednesday: “Today Ed Miliband spoke for the country because David Cameron can’t. Very important moment”. Tony Blair drew applause from a Progress audience last Friday by saying: “Ed Miliband has shown real leadership this week”. (more…)

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Two kinds of brave

12/07/2011, 11:30:01 AM

by Rob Marchant

Steve Richards in the Independent – what seems like an age ago but in reality only last Thursday – defended yesterday’s Labour politicians from the easy criticism that they should have acted against Murdoch. Oh how Blair and Brown bowed and scraped, some are saying. Rubbish. They saw the world as it was, and they prioritised getting and maintaining a Labour government over dealing with a longer-term and mostly intractable problem, the risible regulatory framework which exists around the British media. As had all the other governments before them. Perhaps they shouldn’t have: but it is equally plausible to say that the opportunity to take on the empire just didn’t present itself. It has now.

And the game is changing so quickly, hour by hour, that it is safe to say that no-one, on any side of the debate, really knows how it’s going to end. The astonishing thing is that it could really be anything across a very broad spectrum, starting at dirty tricks bringing down a Labour leader or other key protagonists, and finishing at the other end with the fall of a government. For this reason, the British media has gone into headless-chicken mode and is looking on impotently.

Ed Miliband has done a first-class job in playing the hand he has been dealt. His Monday commons performance against Jeremy Hunt, for example, was well-planned and well-executed. Tony Blair said on Friday he has “shown leadership” and he is right.

Where the esteemed Mr Richards’ analysis falls down is in one phrase: “For the first time…Miliband could display authentic anger without fear of retribution from News International.”

So, you think News International is suddenly going to roll over and die after a few bad days in the press? Er, no. Even if the Armageddon scenario for Murdoch – a meltdown of his empire – is a possibility, it is by no means a guaranteed one at this point. (more…)

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Phone-hacking is not the magic bullet

12/07/2011, 07:00:49 AM

by Dan Hodges

It was the Sunny ‘wot won it. “We killed the News of the World!”, screamed Liberal Conspiracy on Thursday afternoon, via a headline, replete with slammer, of which Rebekah Brooks would be proud. “Vindicated – a win for Labour MPs and the left online”, gushed the slightly more restrained Labour List; “Uncovering the catalogue of misdeeds by the paper, and the work in recent days to encourage advertisers to distance themselves from the News of the World, has been nothing short of inspirational”.

Thanks. I’ll find my inspiration elsewhere.

Now that the dust is beginning to settle over the ruins of what, in my unfashionable view, was a once great British newspaper, perhaps it would be a good idea to step back. Actually, screw it, let’s not. Let’s have a quick dance on the rubble before we get another News International title in our sights.

We may not be any good at winning general elections, but boy, are we good at shutting newspapers. Not that we actually wanted to. When we called on advertisers to boycott the paper, and then threatened those that wouldn’t, we didn’t want anyone to lose their jobs. They’re unfairly paying the price for the greed and excess of others, you see. It was Murdoch that closed the News of the World, not us. What do you mean we said we killed it?

Enjoyable though the spectacle of the British establishment eating itself alive may be to some, we are heading in to dangerous waters. And by ‘we’, I mean the Labour party. (more…)

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BskyB vote: time to put your money where your mouth is

11/07/2011, 07:00:54 AM

by John Woodcock

After Ed Miliband made the running last week, members of parliament from all parties have said sensible things about the need for a new relationship between politicians and the press.

But the test of whether we understand the gravity of the current situation will come on Wednesday when the house of commons votes on Labour’s motion to delay the BSkyB takeover bid until the current criminal investigation into News International has concluded. I hope MPs on the government benches will put aside their differences and vote with us. They will have spent the weekend listening to constituents who simply will not understand if they talk a good game but fail to act.

Ed has been bold and astute. Over the past week he understood and communicated just how much changed with the revelation that this activity systematically targeted the public not just the famous. But of all the calls he has made, the most important may ultimately prove to be the way he has positioned Labour as champion of a continuing free press in Britain. (more…)

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In praise of… the Guardian

10/07/2011, 05:41:19 PM

by David Talbot

Since early 2008 the Guardian’s daily editorial encomium has praised some 841 men, women, organisations, objects and events. But given the extraordinary proceedings that have marked a seismic week in British journalism, no other entity deserves more praise than the Guardian newspaper itself.

If the paper’s revelations had only concerned lurid journalism it would be disgraceful but not sinister. However, the way that the News of the World, the police, the press complaints commission and some politicians appear to have prevented the exposure of systematic phone-hacking, is a reminder of just how much of a stranglehold the Murdoch empire has over British officialdom. The man is rarely seen, but his presence is always felt. Until now all Conservative and Labour leaders have served a rite of passage to canoodle with the Murdoch apparat with a desperation that demeans them and their office. This political corruption has often been rather more alarming than any duck island, and all together far more destructive.

This is one of the biggest scandals in British public life for decades, but the actions of many a hitherto respected institution has been feeble in the extreme. The Metropolitan police has been disgracefully uncooperative, which yet further highlights their sordid links to the media. Parliament, bar a noble few, so long beguiled by the power of the Murdoch press, has dared not speak out. The prime minister, speaking at the dispatch box on Wednesday, effectively evaded questions as to the complicity of the then News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks in the whole affair. And vast swathes of the British media turned a blind eye, in the knowledge that they too were indulging in the very same practices and fearful lest the forensic focus fall on them and their dealings. (more…)

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Sunday News Review

10/07/2011, 06:30:02 AM

Thank you and goodbye

After 168 years, we finally say a sad but very proud farewell to our 7.5m loyal readers. – News of the World

The end of the world

We do not celebrate the passing of the News of the World. At its best, it was one of the finest newspapers in Britain, with an astonishing record of scoops and entertainment. The Independent on Sunday would wish we enjoyed anything like its sales success. And no one, least of all the staff of another Sunday newspaper, should take pleasure in the sacking of fellow journalists, few of whom were responsible for the excesses that brought the title down. What is worse is that the closure of the NOTW was unnecessary. If Rebekah Brooks had resigned, the toxicity of the title could have been purged and advertisers might have been won back. It is almost universally agreed that phone-hacking of this kind, simply trawling for information about people in the news, or their families, is repugnant. It is bad enough when hacking is used as a short cut to easy stories about the private lives of celebrities, but in the Dowler case, the hacker gave false hope to Milly’s family and could have jeopardised a police murder investigation. What Ms Brooks meant when she said that there was worse yet to come out we can only shudder to imagine. – the Independent on Sunday

Suddenly, Rupert Murdoch seems much less a global mogul, much more a diminished man of glass. He flies into London this weekend from Sun Valley, Idaho, in time for the last rites of the most successful Sunday newspaper in Britain, the News of the World. One hundred and sixty-eight years ago, it pledged: “Our motto is the truth, our practice is fearless advocacy of the truth.” After today, the tabloid will appear no more, felled not by one royal rogue reporter but by the arrogance, ambition and apparent tolerance of systemic criminal behaviour by members of the senior News International management. The loss of a newspaper, especially one with a proud history of award-winning investigative journalism, is a cause for sadness. The News of the World was the biggest-selling Sunday tabloid in the English-speaking world. The death of a paper in such rude health is unprecedented and unwanted in the media. The individuals who are to blame are, as yet, unwilling fully to admit culpability. Rebekah Brooks, the chief executive, still in post, has warned that worse revelations are to come. The shameful saga stretches back over five years. Arguably, it would not have come to light but for the sterling and stoic persistence of the Guardian, some diligent lawyers and a handful of MPs such as Tom Watson and Chris Bryant. The News of the World’s termination is the price Murdoch is willing to pay to halt the accelerating erosion of the British wing of his international empire and to secure full ownership of “the cash machine”, the satellite broadcaster BSkyB, the leading provider of pay TV. However, over the past few days, BSkyB shares have lost more than £1bn in value. – the Observer

Ed to take on BSkyB deal in the Commons

Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, is seeking cross-party support for a motion in Parliament that would postpone any deal until the criminal investigation into the News of the World hacking scandal is complete. News Corporation fears that if the vote is successful the bid will have to be abandoned. Observers said that it would be difficult to see how the Government could “green light” the deal if Parliament has voted against it. It is believed Labour is hopeful it can get enough support to push through the vote, scheduled for Wednesday. Mr Miliband is expected to make an official announcement this morning on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show. Meanwhile, one of BSkyB’s most significant long-term investors has bought back into the UK television company, saying that he did not want Rupert Murdoch to get it “on the cheap”. – Sunday Telegraph

Rupert Murdoch‘s ambition to expand his media empire still further could be killed off by MPs this week after Labour announced plans for a Commons vote to thwart his bid for BSkyB. The move comes amid a mood of continuing public uproar over the phone-hacking scandal, which is now threatening to destabilise David Cameron’s government. The vote will present the coalition with a major test of unity as the Labour leader, Ed Miliband, seeks cross-party support for a motion in parliament which would halt progress on the takeover until the criminal investigation into the News of the World is completed. With many Liberal Democrats and Tory MPs deeply uneasy about Murdoch gaining an even bigger slice of the UK media market – and still incensed by the behaviour of News Corp executives – Labour is optimistic it can mobilise enough support to achieve a majority. Miliband will appear on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday to announce his plan and to begin his push for support across all the major parties. He will lay the motion tomorrow and the debate and vote will be on Wednesday. If he is successful, the Labour move will drive a wedge between the coalition parties and leave Murdoch’s takeover ambition in tatters – because the police inquiry could take several years. – the Observer

Yates’ startling apology

A senior Scotland Yard detective has admitted he let down the victims of the News of the World phone-hacking scandal by too readily dismissing calls to reopen the case. Assistant Commissioner John Yates admitted he was too quick to rule out a full investigation into the allegations when he was asked to look into them in 2009. He also said he had never seen the 11,000 pages from private investigator Glenn Mulcaire’s notebooks, which had been seized by police. ‘I’m not going to go down and look at bin bags,’ he said. ‘I am supposed to be an Assistant Commissioner. Perhaps I should have been more demanding. I am accountable, and it happened on my watch, and it’s clear I could have done more.’ Using remarkably blunt language for a senior police officer, Mr Yates said his decision had been ‘a pretty crap one’. He dismissed the claims as ‘malicious gossip’. In a remarkable admission, Mr Yates, who has been widely criticised for failing to expose the full extent of the scandal, said: ‘Should I have come out so quickly and said there wasn’t anything in it? Tactically, I probably shouldn’t have. I should have cogitated and reflected but it’s so bloody obvious there was nothing there [that we didn’t already know]. I didn’t do a review. Had I known then what I know now – all bets are off. In hindsight there is a shed load of stuff in there I wish I’d known.’ – Mail on Sunday

Rooney’s hooker sets BoJo’s pulse racing

Boris Johnson partied the night away with Wayne Rooney’s call girl Helen Wood at a posh summer do – but seemed to have no idea who she was. Former prostitute Helen set the bumbling London Mayor’s pulse racing at the Spectator At Home bash, where posh guests included Chancellor George Osborne. One partygoer said: “Helen really stood out from the crowd on the night. Boris couldn’t believe someone that pretty would be at the Tory magazine’s bash. I’m not sure if he knew about Helen’s past though.” Boris, who arrived at the party on his bicycle, does have previous at The Spectator. He had an affair with columnist Petronella Wyatt while he was editor of the right-wing magazine. – Sunday Mirror

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What the Lib Dem response to the News of the World meltdown tells us about the government’s political strategy

08/07/2011, 08:29:12 AM

by Atul Hatwal

For the moment, all eyes are on News International. Over the coming days, the focus will broaden as the political implications start to be fully felt.

At this stage, it’s difficult to tell definitively what the political fall-out will be, but one small political development has become apparent which will potentially have major consequences for Labour.

Note the position of the Lib Dems. They’ve staked out a distinctly more hawkish stance than Cameron, calling for tougher action, Rebekah Brooks’ resignation and a judge-led enquiry.

This follows on from a few weeks where Cameron and Clegg, last year’s political love birds, have been engaged in some seemingly sharper public exchanges.

The new mood was first evident on June 20th, when David Cameron subjected himself to the forensic questioning of Steve Wright in the afternoon on radio 2.

Out of the blue, he broke new political ground when he said that the Tories would have been tougher on immigration and welfare without the Lib Dems.

Apparently piqued, Clegg fired back two days later on his visit to Brazil saying that without the Tories the Lib Dems would have been tougher on the banks.

Looking at the change in tone, it’s easy to view this as a part of a linear process that starts with flowers in the Number 10 garden and ends in a bitter split. The New Statesman‘s Rafael Behr declared,

With the prime minister now attacking his deputy openly on the radio, it’s clear that the early truce is over. How will the two parties convince voters that coalition is still a viable option for 2015“?

The Lib Dem position on hacking would seem to back this up. It has certainly been written up as such.


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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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