David Cameron's dilemma: to stand by Rupert Murdoch – or to desert him

Clegg's criticism of News Corp adds to PM's problems ahead of vote on incendiary report

David Cameron is facing a political showdown over News Corp which could see Conservative MPs forced to vote on whether to censure three of Rupert Murdoch's senior lieutenants accused of misleading Parliament. The Prime Minister, who will have to account for his links with the Murdoch empire in an appearance before the Leveson Inquiry later this month, will be anxious to avoid confrontations which renew scrutiny of the Tory high command's relationship with News International.

But a motion will be tabled in the coming days asking MPs to endorse the findings of this week's report by the Culture Select Committee which found that three Murdoch executives – the News of the World lawyer Tom Crone, the paper's former editor Colin Myler and Les Hinton, a former chairman of News International – misled Parliament.

If the motion is recommended for debate, it will leave Conservative MPs having to vote on whether to back the committee's findings. The threat of a split in the Coalition over how to proceed against the Murdoch empire was increased yesterday when the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg admitted there were "big questions" about News Corp and the fitness of Mr Murdoch to run it in the wake of the committee's finding that the mogul had shown "wilful blindness" to the hacking scandal.

Mr Clegg said: "There are very serious question marks about the basic accountability and corporate governance of an organisation in which, as we now know, journalists were abusing the privacy of ordinary people and flouting the law in a sustained way."

The Liberal Democrat leader's comments were in stark contrast to the tone struck by his cabinet colleague William Hague. The Foreign Secretary went out of his way to praise Mr Murdoch as part of a coterie of newspaper proprietors who are "great business people".

It remained unclear what sanction, if any, the parliamentary authorities might be able to apply against the three former NI executives despite the conclusion of the committee that they had committed a contempt of Parliament by failing to disclose their knowledge of crucial aspects of the hacking scandal.

Paul Farrelly, a Labour member of the Culture Select Committee, said he hoped the report would be used as an opportunity to introduce a meaningful deterrent against witnesses who mislead Parliament. He said: "We are in uncharted territory here."

In a statement, the clerk of the House of Commons said it would fall to the Committee on Standards and Privileges to decide whether the three men were guilty of contempt and what action should be taken.

Leveson may drop second part of inquiry

Lord Justice Leveson's report on Britain's press could be more hard-hitting than expected after hints he may drop a part of his inquiry scheduled to probe criminal wrongdoing at News International.

So far the Leveson Inquiry has taken a cautious approach to witnesses for fear of prejudicing future criminal cases.

The second part – expected later next year, after any trials related to hacking – was to explore criminal activity at Wapping and on Fleet Street. But a new ruling from Leveson suggests this could be dropped and the current part be taken as far as it can to avoid delays. This was interpreted as increasing the likelihood of a more robust report later this year.

James Cusick

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Service Engineers - Doncaster / Hull

£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...

Recruitment Genius: Employability / Recruitment Adviser

£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...