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Observation On Hunt adviser Adam Smith to appear


Observations On the Leveson Inquiry To do it justices I have included the article below:

 

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s former special adviser Adam Smith will give evidence to the Leveson Inquiry next week, it has been announced.

News Corporation lobbyist Frederic Michel will also appear on Thursday.

Mr Smith resigned last month over his contacts with Mr Michel relating to News Corp’s bid to take over BSkyB.

Former Labour cabinet ministers Lord Mandelson, Lord Reid, Tessa Jowell and Alan Johnson will also appear at the Leveson Inquiry next week.

Mr Smith resigned after a series of emails released at the inquiry revealed close contacts between Mr Hunt’s office and News Corp.

Mr Smith said the “content and extent” of his dealings with Mr Michel had not been authorised by the culture secretary.

Mr Hunt, who has himself rejected calls to quit, will give his own account of events when he appears before the Leveson Inquiry.

Labour MP Tom Watson, a fierce critic of News International over the phone-hacking scandal, will give evidence next week as will BBC television journalists Jeremy Paxman and Andrew Marr.

The third module of the Leveson Inquiry is focusing on the relationship between the press and prominent politicians as part of its examination of the ethics, culture and practices of the UK’s newspapers.

On Thursday, Daily Telegraph chief political commentator Peter Oborne told the inquiry that News International (NI) executives briefed David Cameron on “what to say and how to say it” before he first met Rupert Murdoch.

But Mr Oborne said an unnamed NI employee was shocked when Mr Cameron “wouldn’t play ball”.

Obersations:

I have to admit that I have been following the Leveson Enquiry with great interest of lately as calls were growing for an investigation into whether the Tory culture secretary Jeremy Hunt broke the ministerial code during his handling of NewsCorp.
For me it’s a question of if Chris Bryant was right to say is there a element of a criminal offence which may have been committed if News International the NewsCorp which owns the Times and Sun newspapers in the UK was handed information to gain advantage in it’s bid of BSkyB.

How rich is this coming out with a statement like David Cameron insisted that police investigating the phone hacking scandal must act on evidence “wherever it leads.”

The PM has become uncomfortably mired in the scandal himself due to his close friendship with former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks, who was this week officially charged by police.

Ms Brooks and her husband Charlie, an old school friend of Mr Cameron, were charged with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

The couple vowed to fight the allegations in court and attacked police and prosecutors over what Ms Brooks claimed was “an expensive sideshow and a waste of public money.”

Asked whether he was upset by the action against the Brookses, the PM said the justice system had to take its “proper course.”

Mr Cameron who has faced criticism over his social engagements with Ms Brooks, told ITV1’s Daybreak: “I think it’s very important that the police, the justice authorities, that they follow the evidence wherever it leads and they take all the action.

“They are independent in this country, they don’t obey the orders of the government and that’s the way it should be. So that has to take its proper course and its natural course.”

He said there were “big lessons to learn from all of this” and suggested that politicians had not tackled issues of media regulation properly in the past because of their closeness to the press.

A number of senior government figures including the PM have been called to testify at the Leveson phone hacking inquiry over allegations of inappropriate links with News Corporation.

Now we have learnt that some key people like Rebekah Brooks and her husband, Charlie, have been charged with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice over the phone-hacking inquiry.

Three of Mrs Brooks’s staff, and News International security head Mark Hanna, are also charged with the offence.

Mrs Brooks said: “I can’t express my anger enough that those closest to me have been dragged into this unfairly.”

They will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 13 June.

They have been charged with offences including concealing documents and computers from police.

The charges, which relate to alleged offences in July last year, are the first in an inquiry lasting 18 months – more than 40 other people remain on police bail in the investigation.

Mr Brooks said he had been used as a “scapegoat” to “ratchet up the pressure” on his wife, who he claimed was the victim of a “witch-hunt”.

The ex-News of the World editor herself said she was “baffled” by the decision.

She described the investigation as a “waste of public money” and added: “One day the details of this case will emerge and people will see today as nothing more than an expensive sideshow.”

Mrs Brooks was editor of the News of the World (NoW) when voicemails on murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler’s mobile phone were allegedly intercepted.

She quit as chief executive of News International in July 2011 – the same month as the alleged conspiracy offences – after the phone-hacking scandal led to the paper’s closure.

Mrs Brooks, 43, from Churchill, Oxfordshire, has denied any knowledge of phone hacking on her watch.

Announcing the decision to charge the six, the director of public prosecutions’ senior legal adviser Alison Levitt, QC, said she was making a statement “in the interests of transparency and accountability”.

Mrs Brooks was arrested on 13 March as part of Operation Weeting.

She is charged with conspiring with her 49-year-old husband, personal assistant Cheryl Carter, chauffeur Paul Edwards, security man Daryl Jorsling, and News International head of security Mr Hanna to “conceal material” from police between 6 and 19 July.

In a second charge Mrs Brooks and Ms Carter are accused of conspiring to remove seven boxes of material from the News International archive between 6 and 9 July.

In a third charge, Mr and Mrs Brooks, Mr Hanna, Mr Edwards and Mr Jorsling are accused of conspiring to conceal documents, computers and other electronic equipment from police officers between 15 and 19 July.

A seventh unnamed suspect, who also provided security for Mrs Brooks, will not be charged.

Lawyer Henri Brandman said Ms Carter, 48, from Chelmsford, Essex, “vigorously” denied the charge she faces and thanked her family and friends for their support during this “most unhappy period of her life”.

Mr Hanna said he would be “totally exonerated”, adding that he was innocent of the charges against him and he had “no doubt that ultimately justice will prevail”.

Mrs Brooks became editor of the NoW in 2000 at the age of 31 before she took up the same role at the Sun three years later.

She was made chief executive of News International in 2009 and resigned in July 2011.

She was arrested a few days later on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications and corruption, and remains on bail without charge for those alleged offences.

Mrs Brooks was then re-arrested on 13 March on suspicion of conspiring to pervert the course.

On Friday, appearing at the Leveson Inquiry into press ethics, Mrs Brooks said that Prime Minister David Cameron sent her a “keep your head up” message when she quit News International.

I personally think developments were likely to be “highly embarrassing” for Mr Cameron who attended Eton College with Mr Brooks and was a friend of both the racehorse trainer and his wife.

For a decade she was close to those at top of Scotland Yard but for the past year the force, which once loaned her a horse, has been investigating her.

“The woman who, for so long, wielded power and influence in British public life must now begin preparing for her first court appearance.”

Mr Jorsling, 39, from Ash Vale, near Guildford, Surrey; Mr Edwards, 47, of Kilburn, west London; and Mr Hanna, 49, from Buckingham, Bucks, were all notified of the charges on Tuesday.

Scotland Yard is conducting three investigations relating to phone-hacking.

Operation Weeting is looking into allegations of hacking by the NoW into private voicemails, Operation Elveden is examining allegations that journalists from News International made “inappropriate” payments to police, and Operation Tuleta is investigating computer hacking.

It gets even more interesting that Tony Blair’s former spokesman Alastair Campbell told the Leveson inquiry there is no evidence of a “trade-off” having taken place between the former Prime Minister and News Corporation boss Rupert Murdoch.

During his appearance before the inquiry Campbell spoke about his objective to “neutralise” the Sun newspaper to “try to ensure we had a more level playing field where we could communicate to the public what we were trying to do”.

But while this was his objective he did not predict the Sun’s decision to back Labour in 1997.

Campbell said looking at the period of 1995 to 1997, the Sun was a “significant player in the media marketplace” and Rupert Murdoch was the “single most important media figure”. He said it was part of his job “to help Tony Blair communicate to the public and part of that was through the media”.

He added: “The Labour party for some years had nothing to do with Murdoch papers whatsoever, we made an active choice to change that approach.”

But he said he was never “witness to and don’t believe there was ever a discussion of … ‘Tony if you do this my papers will back you’.

“It just never happened. I believe Blair went through these issues on their merits.”

He added there were “lots of areas you’d be hard-pressed to say the Murdochs were getting good business out of the Labour government”.

Campbell was asked about an article in the Sun in 1997 by Blair on his commitment to a referendum before entry to the Euro.

Campbell said they knew what was wanted “rhetoric wise” but that this did not involve a change in policy.

He told the inquiry “it was made clear by the editor” that if Blair emphasised his commitment to a referendum, this was “likely to be the final piece of the jigsaw”.

But this policy was “already set”, Campbell added.

“I don’t think on policy anything was ever traded with Murdoch or any other media owner.”

Later in his evidence Campbell was also asked by Lord Justice Leveson if he felt there was an appetite to address the cultural issues being highlighted by the inquiry, today, to which Campbell replied: “No, if I’m being frank”.

“I don’t think there is much of an appetite. I think there is some appetite for a cross-party approach but I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of politicians looking to see how this might affect their positioning vis-a-vis the next election. There is some appetite for change but I wouldn’t overstate it.”

In another twist ‘Hell Hath No Fury Like a Woman Scorned but in this case it was a man called Tom Watson MP claimed senior figures at newspaper publisher News International “corrupted our country” as a Commons inquiry warned media mogul Rupert Murdoch was “not a fit person” to run a major international corporation.

West Bromwich East MP delivered his attack on “powerful people” in the media industry as the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee, of which he is a member, published the result of its inquiry into the phone hacking scandal.

But it has emerged the committee was divided as Conservatives accused Mr Watson of “getting carried away”.

Tom Watson

The committee was publishing the findings of its inquiry into phone hacking at News International, which publishes The Times and The Sun and is owned by News Corporation, the company controlled by Rupert Murdoch.

It followed reports that journalists at The News of the World, the Sunday tabloid owned by News International until its closure last year, had hacked the phone of murdered teenager Milly Dowler.

The committee concluded that three News International executives – Les Hinton, Colin Myler, and Tom Crone – had misled it. The MPs announced plans to submit a motion to the Commons accusing the three men of being in “contempt of Parliament” and possibly recommending that they should be punished.

But the committee also concluded that “Rupert Murdoch is not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company” – despite opposition from Tory members.

The words were added to the report after they were suggested by Mr Watson and his proposal was backed by four Labour colleagues and one Lib Dem MP. The committee’s four Conservative MPs opposed adding the words to the report.

Mr Watson said: “The truth is that whatever we have said in our report and however you choose to report it, the public have made up their minds: powerful people were involved in a cover-up and they still haven’t accepted responsibility.

“And after all of this, the story is not yet over.

“These people corrupted our country. They brought shame on our police force and our Parliament. They lied, they cheated, blackmailed and bullied and we should all be ashamed when we think how we cowered before them for too long.”

Conservative MP Philip Davies, also a member of the committee, complained: “Many people may conclude that some people’s conclusions were written before any of the evidence was ever heard, and I think that is very sad.”

He added: “To me, very clearly, Rupert Murdoch is a fit and proper person to run a major company.”

Despite the divisions, the findings will come as a devastating blow to Mr Murdoch and his business.

The report stated: “On the basis of the facts and evidence before the committee, we conclude that, if at all relevant times Rupert Murdoch did not take steps to become fully informed about phone hacking, he turned a blind eye and exhibited willful blindness to what was going on in his companies and publications.”

 

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