Prescott: 'Delay BSkyB decision'

 

The former Deputy Prime John Prescott last night called on the Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt to delay News Corporation’s takeover of BSkyB to give time to investigate whether it was a “fit and proper” company to take full control of the broadcaster.

Lord Prescott said News Corp’s admission that phone hacking had been widespread at the News of the World and not the work of one rogue reporter hadn’t been considered by Mr Hunt when he made his decision to allow the take-over to go ahead.

He added that it was now vital that a public inquiry was held to get to the bottom of the extent of phone hacking by News Corporation employees before any decision was made on BSkyB’s future.

“When the News of the World apologised for hacking Sienna Miller’s phone papers like The Independent and The Guardian reported it properly but it was tucked away in Murdoch’s Times so you’d hardly notice it,” he said.

“If they get hold BSkyB is he going to do the same thing on the television? We need a proper inquiry to establish whether Murdoch is a fit and proper person to run the company.”

Lord Prescott used a debate on media ownership regulations in the House of Lords to suggest that diversity and plurality were not the only tests which the Government needed to apply when deciding whether to allow the takeover to go ahead.

“If you want a healthy democracy and a healthy media, it is not simply diversity and plurality you need - we now need something more than that.

“We need an independent public inquiry. We need to know what the facts are. If you are in any doubt about that, read what the settlement on Sienna Miller said.

“It said we settle, we did wrong, we should not have printed it, we should not have paid for it. But how did they do it? The settlement means she will be told in private how the company did it.

“There is no open court situation exposing it and all the hypocrisy we get about super injunctions about our press who tell us we should have open courts and be told information, but when it comes to a criminal act they don't want an open court - they settle with money, they settle with power and they settle with an agreement not to tell the public how they did it.

“That is unacceptable, that is not a force and influence that creates a democratic society.”

Lord Prescott added: “This Government must now consider an independent public inquiry for the health of our own democracy, for the health of the media.

“What worries me is it (the hacking scandal) has polluted a number of institutions in this country in the process of that.

"The first is the Metropolitan Police who in the initial stages refused to accept even though they had the evidence that this has been going on and constantly for years said it was a rogue reporter, we now know that not to be true.

"Having told me personally that my phone messages had not been tapped at all, there was no evidence, the new inquiry comes along and tells me there were 44 occasions.

"You can't trust the police if they are producing misleading information, deliberately so."

He also criticised the role of the Press Complaints Commission and the Crown Prosecution Service and said the courts had been "polluted" by the process, as they had not received all the police information.

The result, he said, was that “there is something rotten in the state of England at present”.

But sources in the Department of Culture, Media and Sport said they could not suddenly re-open the investigation into the BSkyB takeover to include whether News Corp was a fit and proper company even if it wanted to.

“If that was going to happen it would have had to been done at the start of the process,” they said. “We can’t suddenly re-open it now. If we did it would simply be thrown out by the courts.”

The department’s position appeared to be backed by Ivan Lewis, Shadow Culture, Media and Sport Secretary. “The serious admissions of culpability by News International aren't relevant to the News Corp-BSkyB media plurality issue,” he said.

“However, the continued delays in Jeremy Hunt reaching a decision begs the question why he did not refer the deal to the Competition Commission in the first place”.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Guru Careers: Account Executive / Account Manager

£18 - 20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: An Account Executive / Account Manager is ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Social Media Account Writers

£12000 - £13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This social media management pr...

Ashdown Group: Deputy Editor (Magazine Publishing) - Wimbledon - £23-26K

£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Deputy Editor - Wimbledon...

Ashdown Group: Editor (Magazines/Publishing) - Wimbledon - £26-30K

£26000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Editor (Magazines/Publish...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there