PM faces flak over Sky bid and errors of judgement

 

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The closure of the News Of The World does nothing to ease the pressure on the Prime Minister David Cameron.

The Government is prepared for a storm over News Corporation's bid to assume control of BSkyB, admitting it has limited options to do anything other than delay the takeover and Downing Street faces a logistical nightmare in setting up the two public inquiries Mr Cameron promised after claims that the NOTW hacked into the phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, pictured.

On top of that the Prime Minister will need to answer charges that hiring Andy Coulson as his director of communications was an error of judgement and that he remains too close to Rebekah Brooks, News International's embattled chief executive.

Downing Street is already distancing itself from Mr Coulson, pointing out he left the Prime Minister's side six months ago while Whitehall sources admit they face "huge flak" over News Corp's planned takeover of BSkyB.

Consultation over the move closes today, with the final decision passing to the Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt. He faces calls from across the political spectrum to block the takeover, but sources close to him insist his room for manoeuvre is limited as he can only do so if it threatens media plurality.

Meanwhile the Labour leader is today expected to call for the abolition of the press watchdog, dismissing it as a "toothless poodle" that needs to be "put out of its misery". The Labour leader will argue that the Press Complaints Commission (PCC), which has admitted failing to prevent the mass invasion of privacy, has lost all credibility. Mr Miliband will say, "There has been a pent-up demand for change for many years. This week the dam burst."

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