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
Cahal Milmo is the chief reporter of The Independent and has been with the paper since 2000. He was born in London and previously worked at the Press Association news agency. He has reported on assignment at home and abroad, including Rwanda, Sudan and Burkina Faso, the phone hacking scandal and the London Olympics. In his spare time he is a keen runner and cyclist, and keeps an allotment.
Thursday 03 May 2012
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.
- 1 18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
- 2 US? China? India? The 10 biggest economies in 2030 will be...
- 3 'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
- 4 Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
- 5 Australian student Tommy Connolly, 23, adopts his pregnant, homeless 17-year-old cousin to give her a chance at 'a better life'
General Election 2015: David Cameron catching up in polls – but he badly needs a clear lead
South Africa xenophobic attacks: Shops looted and violence on streets of Johannesburg as foreigners are forced to hide in police stations
18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...
£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...
£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...