TV can cover sleaze case

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The Independent Online
The Commons Committee on Standards and Privileges last night agreed to hold televised public hearings into allegations that a Tory whip tried to exert improper influence on a "sleaze" inquiry.

The Commons quietly agreed last year to give the committee power to ban broadcasters from public hearings, for fear of creating a media "circus". One senior Tory told the committee last night that the cameras and microphones should be barred because colleagues' careers were at stake.

But a majority of the cross-party committee agreed it was more important to reassure the public that complaints were being dealt with openly and thoroughly. The current inquiry, into an allegation that David Willetts exerted improper influence on an investigation into claims that the Tory MP Neil Hamilton had received cash payments from Harrods owner Mohamed al-Fayed, is asking for written submissions before taking oral evidence in public.

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