Should Prime Minister David Cameron be forced to reveal all his text correspondence with Rebekah Brooks?


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The Independent Online


What's going on?

As our reporter Martin Hickman - author of Dial M for Murdoch - writes this morning: "David Cameron will come under fresh pressure this week to reveal the content of "salacious" messages between him and Rebekah Brooks. The Prime Minister will be obliged to respond formally to a deadline for a Freedom of Information request from a Labour MP seeking the publication of dozens of private messages between himself and the former chief executive of News International. So far Mr Cameron has refused to publish all of his correspondence with Mrs Brooks – who faces charges of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and phone hacking – saying he has given all relevant messages to the Leveson Inquiry into press ethics."

So should Cameron be forced to publish all his text message correspondence with Rebekah Brooks?

Case For: Transparency

David Cameron has no doubt sent many text messages during the course of his career, most of which the public has no legitimate interest in. We don't care what time he told his wife he'd be home for tea, or what jokes he forwarded to a friend. But the fact that our Prime Minister has a private and intimate relationship with a former national newspaper editor - a woman now facing serious charges - is not incidental to the matter at hand; it is the matter at hand. Where does the influence of News International end, and the British Government begin?

That these "private" text messages exist at all must be of great concern to anyone interested in preserving an independent press and a government of real integrity. And anyway, if they are so "irrelevant", why not just publish them?

Case Against: Witch-hunt

Privacy matters. This is becoming a witch-hunt. The Prime Minister has already said that he will co-operate fully with the Leveson Inquiry - indeed, it was his government that set it up, and he went to the effort of turning up for an interrogation - so the idea that he's being obstructive, or has something to hide, is a nonsense. There should be limits to transparency, and if a British Prime Minister cannot have private correspondence, his job will be worse than intolerable. It will be impossible.