Sleaze watchdog to probe phone-hacking row

Click to follow
Indy Politics

MPs referred the News of the World phone-hacking row to the parliamentary sleaze watchdog today for further investigation.

Authorisation for the Standards and Privileges Committee to launch a probe was nodded through the Commons without a formal vote.



The move followed an hour-long debate sparked by Labour frontbencher Chris Bryant, who insisted that MPs should not be "supine" amid allegations that their phones were hacked.









The investigation by the powerful cross-party committee will further increase the pressure on David Cameron's communications chief Andy Coulson, who was the newspaper's editor during the period in question.



Ex-royal editor Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire were jailed for intercepting voicemail messages left for public figures in 2007.



But the row was reignited last week when a former reporter claimed that Mr Coulson had been aware such eavesdropping was happening - an allegation he strongly denies.



Mr Bryant told the Commons he was one of the MPs who had contacted the Metropolitan Police and been told that he was on a list of those allegedly targeted by Mulcaire.



But he said he suspected that was the "tip of the iceberg" and hacking extended not just to Labour MPs but also to Liberal Democrats and Tories.



He said that hacking into MPs' phones was "a contempt of Parliament, a severe breach of parliamentary privilege" which could compromise their right to speak freely, which "stems in essence from the 1689 Bill of Rights".









In a statement, the News of the World said: "This matter, which largely relates to alleged behaviour five years ago, has become intensely partisan.



"Amidst a swirl of untethered allegations, there should be no doubt that the News of the World will investigate any allegation of wrongdoing when presented with evidence.



"As we have always made clear, we have a zero-tolerance approach to wrongdoing and will take swift and decisive action if we have proof."











A spokesman for the Standards and Privileges Committee said it was due to meet on Tuesday morning, and would discuss how to take forward the House's instructions.

Comments