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

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Rita Ora will replace Kylie Minogue as a judge on The Voice 2015
tv
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Extras
indybest
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
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

English teachers required in Lowestoft

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Qualified English tea...

Business Development Director - Interior Design

£80000 - £100000 per annum + competitive + bonus + benefits: Sauce Recruitment...

Sales Director, Media Sponsorship

£60000 - £65000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A globally successful media and ...

Head of Affiliate Sales for Emerging Markets

competitive + benefits: Sauce Recruitment: Are you looking for your next role ...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits