Editorial: Something to hide, Mr Cameron?

 

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There was more than a touch of the playground in the Prime Minister's refusal to answer questions about why he will not hand over private emails between himself and Rupert Murdoch's erstwhile right-hand woman Rebekah Brooks to the Leveson Inquiry. "Until he apologises I'm not going to answer his questions," David Cameron said of his interlocutor, the shadow Home Office minister Chris Bryant, whom he accuses of breaking an embargo on information given to the inquiry.

Such yah-boo juvenility is not the first element of farce in this affair. Previously, Lord Justice Leveson heard of Mr Cameron signing message to Ms Brooks "Lots of Love" and going out riding on her police-loaned horse, Raisa. But the puerility with which the Prime Minister replied to Mr Bryant cannot disguise the seriousness of his decision – even on legal advice – to withhold dozens of emails.

The Prime Minister gave Lord Justice Leveson a comprehensive brief to explore the relationship between the press, politicians and police. He was – rightly – given full authority to scrutinise all relevant material. And, in response, News International's lawyers released large tranches of emails, which have been published with minimal redactions.

It is therefore anomalous, to say the least, that Lord Justice Leveson does not have equally full access to the exchanges involving the Prime Minister. That Downing Street lawyers have ruled the documents not to be "relevant" is beside the point. It should be for the inquiry to judge such matters. The only conclusion to be drawn from the ducking and diving of Mr Cameron, normally so keen a champion of "transparency", is there is something to hide.

But a requirement of "full disclosure" that goes for everyone except Mr Cameron reflects far worse on the Prime Minister than any further evidence of his cosy relationship with Ms Brooks. Worse still, public confidence in Lord Justice Leveson's conclusions must surely be undermined.

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