Thursday News Review

New investigation into phone hacking

I have learned that News International uncovered four emails indicating that the former News of the World news editor Ian Edmondson had full knowledge of the illegal phone hacking activities of the private detective, Glenn Mulcaire. Glenn Mulcaire was jailed in 2007 for his role in trying to intercept voicemail messages left for royal aides. Mr Edmondson had always denied to News International’s bosses that he had any knowledge of hacking. So executives of the UK arm of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation yesterday concluded that they had no option but to sack Mr Edmondson. A source said that Mr Edmondson misled News International when originally asked about all this a few years ago. “He denied all knowledge,” the source said. News International is now expected to go on a hunt for evidence to discover whether other executives from that era are implicated. “This is a new phase for News International in relation to the hacking,” said a businessman close to the media group. “They want to know everything and root out anyone who obtained information improperly. It could get pretty messy.” – Robert Peston, BBC

With its dismissal of Ian Edmondson, News International abandoned the mantra it has chanted for four years: that phone hacking carried out by the News of the World was the work of a “rogue reporter”. That was the line from January 2007, when the paper’s royal editor, Clive Goodman, was jailed for illegally intercepting the royal household’s messages. Andy Coulson, the paper’s editor, agreed to resign while denying any knowledge of illegal activities. He didn’t go straight away – when Goodman was jailed, Coulson simply promised to make a donation to a charity chosen by the royal princes. Four years later, dozens of alleged victims of the hacking – almost all high-profile figures – have lodged legal actions against Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp empire in the High Court. – the Independent

Senior Metropolitan Police officers are now braced for an investigation lasting up to two years which is expected to cost millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money. News International is understood to have passed the police a dossier of evidence – including emails – which details communications between Ian Edmondson, the former news editor of the News of the World, and a private detective already convicted of phone hacking. Mr Edmondson was sacked by the newspaper on Wednesday and is now expected to be questioned by police within weeks. Other former executives at the newspaper, including the former editor Andy Coulson, may also become embroiled in the new investigation. Mr Coulson, who resigned from his new job as David Cameron’s director of communications last week, has repeatedly denied any knowledge of phone hacking at the newspaper. – the Telegraph

London’s Metropolitan Police are facing mounting criticism of their handling of allegations of phone hacking at the News of the World newspaper. Metropolitan Police detectives have launched a fresh inquiry into the controversy after receiving “significant new information” from the Rupert Murdoch-owned newspaper. The paper simultaneously announced on Wednesday that one of its senior editors, Ian Edmonson, had been fired following the discovery of “material evidence” which had subsequently been passed to police. Meanwhile, former deputy prime minister Lord Prescott has called for a judicial review into the Met’s handling of the case so far. “I just don’t trust the Metropolitan Police to conduct a proper inquiry,” he said on Wednesday. “I can’t trust them to carry out a proper inquiry and that’s why I asked the courts for a judicial review on the Metropolitan Police and the way they’ve conducted investigations.” – the Sydney Morning Herald

Cameron urges “guillotine” motion in the Lords

David Cameron this afternoon met crossbench peers in an attempt to persuade them that the time has come to allow a guillotine motion to ensure the bill introducing the referendum on the alternative vote and the redrawing of constituency boundaries reaches the statute book in time for referendum scheduled for 5 May. The crossbench peers were urged by Cameron at a private meeting to recognise that the government has made genuine concessions on the bill and that a group of Labour peers are abusing the procedures of the Lords to prevent legislation reaching the statute book. He wants the peers to take the rare step of agreeing to a guillotine of the bill, ending centuries of total self-regulation. The bill is now on a record 14th day in committee on the floor of the Lords and the prime minister’s spokesman said it was clear some peers were no longer involved in scrutiny of the bill, but instead delay. The bill needs to reach the statute book by mid-February to give the Electoral Commission time to make the preparations for the referendum. Coalition sources said crossbenchers were increasingly exasperated with Labour behaviour, which they said was abusing the long tradition of self-regulation in the Lords including the understanding that debates cannot be curtailed artificially. – the Guardian

Changes to control orders

The Government has “missed a trick” in failing to fully ditch control orders, former shadow Home Secretary David Davis has told PoliticsHome. “Control orders have been incredibly harmful to our cause and the sensible policy would have been to sweep them away completely and to replace them with something more effective. The Government has failed to do that and missed a trick in the battle against terrorism,” he said. Mr Davis wanted a radically different solution, with pre-charge bail conditions set by a court instead of the Home Secretary handing out control orders. The issue has been a source of tension within the Coalition, with many Liberal Democrats and libertarian Conservatives favouring scrapping control orders, and others in Government supporting a rejinked version of the controversial powers. – PoliticsHome

With details of reform of counter-terrorism laws unveiled in the House of Commons, today is a proud day for those who cherish the freedoms that we in Britain have enjoyed for centuries and that our ancestors fought and died for. These civil liberties have been chipped away at over recent years, with the fundamental principle of innocent until proven guilty abandoned and the increasing power of the state to spy on its citizens. There will always be a fine balance to be struck between freedom and security, but the proposals detailed today mark a decisive move away from the paranoid, authoritarian state presided over by Labour. No longer will people who have had no charge brought against them be locked up for 28 days or placed under de facto house arrest. – Tim Farron, the Guardian

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