Labour's memo to MPs: don't pick on Murdoch

Click to follow

Labour frontbenchers have been warned by Ed Miliband's office not to single out Rupert Murdoch's newspaper group over the hacking scandal.

In a leaked memo, Labour's strategy director, Tom Baldwin, indicated that many media groups, not just News International, could become embroiled in the row over the interception of mobile phone messages.

He also ordered the party's senior politicians to avoid linking hacking to Mr Murdoch's £7bn bid for control of Britain's biggest commercial broadcaster, BSkyB.

The memo appears to be designed to avoid a re-emergence of the historically-strained relationship between Labour and News International, whose biggest selling title, The News of the World, is at the centre of a new Scotland Yard investigation into hacking.

Dated 27 January and apparently emanating from Mr Baldwin, previously a News International journalist for more than a decade, the memo advised Labour frontbench teams: "On phone hacking, we believe the police should thoroughly investigate all allegations.

"But this is not just an issue about News International. Almost every media organisation may end up becoming embroiled in these allegations."

It stressed: "Frontbench spokespeople who want to talk about their personal experiences of being tapped should make it clear they are doing just that – speaking from personal experience. We must guard against anything which appears to be attacking a particular newspaper group out of spite."

The shadow Justice Minister Chris Bryant and the former defence minister Tom Watson have criticised police for failing properly to investigate the allegations. There have been suggestions that Scotland Yard had an unhealthily close relationship with News International.

A Labour spokesman said the memo was intended to ensure MPs "didn't confuse two separate issues". He added: "There's no suggestion of us going soft or going hard."