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
Sport
Seth Rollins cashes in his Money in the Bank contract to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
WWERollins win the WWE World Heavyweight title in one of the greatest WrestleMania's ever seen
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
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

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor