Government narrowly defeat plan for new Leveson inquiry after deal with DUP

Lord-Justice-Leveson

Lord Justice Leveson ; Pic courtesy Leveson Inquiry website

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UPDATE: Government defeated the Leveson2  inquiry by nine votes 304-295 . There were five Tory rebels. The nine DUP  MPs supported the government after they were offered a new press watchdog for Northern Ireland. The one independent Northern Ireland MP, Lady Hermon voted with Labour.

Five Tories voted with Labour – they were Ken Clarke, Dominic Grieve ( former attorney general), Peter Bone, Philip Hollobone and Crispin Blunt.

One Labour MP John Grogan voted with the government to block Leveson 2.

Parliament will decide today whether a second Leveson inquiry  should go ahead and on new rules that would strengthen the role of press regulator Impress and force compulsory arbitration in libel cases.

Voting in the Commons on both motions is on a knife edge with  literally the decision being made on who turns up and whether very active campaigns by  mainstream media moguls or Hacked Off can convince wavering MPs.

Theresa May has staked her reputation on protecting Murdoch and Dacre from a second Leveson inquiry into malpractices by the media and scrapping the section which would have forced compulsory arbitration. At the Westminster  Correspondents Dinner she promised lobby journalists that ” very good news” was coming to help the media moguls avoid further scrutiny into their practices.

But her failure to control Parliament has put both promises at risk- hence the frenzied campaign  in the media to protect press freedom by media bosses who do not want some of the dark practices subject to forensic examination by Lord Leveson.

There are two motions today – one by former Labour leader Ed Miliband and Tory rebel Kenneth Clarke – aims to reinstate Leveson 2 after a Commons committee overturned a Lords resolution to hold the inquiry.

The second by Tom Watson, Labour deputy’s leader and long time campaigner against the Murdoch press, would implement the changes promised to force compulsory arbitration in libel cases – making court cases very expensive for the media even if they won.

The first motion stands the best chance of passing with guaranteed support from a number of Tory rebels, Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the sole Green MP, Plaid Cymru and the Scottish Nationalists. Nobody seems sure how the DUP will vote.

This alliance is however dependent on everybody turning up and solid support among all the groups.

There was signs at the weekend  that media moguls had changed  tactics and were trying to persuade some Labour MPs not to back Ed Miliband’s motion and the one strengthening Impress-and suggesting this would go down very well in the mainstream media who might look favourably on covering some of the issues  these Labour MPs might want to take up. A senior Labour source told me : ” They (the Labour MPs) are trying to curry favour with the mass media”.

Labour whips have been alerted to this but some Labour MPs are playing their cards very close to their chests and trying to hide their proposed support. You can be sure there will be very active work done by Labour this morning to try and root them out.

The other problem  that could scupper a  defeat for the government will be if not all MPs turn up. Here the SNP with 35 MPs are a key group – but not all of them turn up if they have pressing business in Scotland. A  ” no show” by just a few in this group would have a big effect on the vote.

So today’s decision will depend on the capricious nature of MPs in Parliament – and how much priority they put into defeating the government over this issue.

 

 

 

 

A family that plays together stays together: a happy holiday season for the UK’s political-media elite – Des Freedman

A very good read from Des Freedman.Obviously a very happy Christmas for the Murdoch dynasty, their friends and the Prime Minister. What could possibly go wrong now -only immortality eludes them. Very much a tale of power corrupts. Now they have absolute power they must think nothing is beyond their grasp.

Inforrm's Blog

rupert-murdochFamilies should be together at Christmas. That’s the simple message we should take from the merry noises emanating from Rupert Murdoch’s London apartment where, on Monday night, David Cameron, George Osborne, Rebekah Brooks and a slew of top News Corp personnel joined the mogul in capping off what has been a pretty decent year for him.

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Alastair Morgan to @RupertMurdoch “You are in a unique position to help us finally lay Daniel to rest.”

This comes at a time when the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel , chaired by Baroness O’Loan has made a fresh appeal for people to come forward -particularly journalists – with fresh information which should be supported. No one should have such a hideous crime on their conscience.

The Criminal Media Nexus

1DMAM1Today, on the anniversary of his brother’s brutal murder in 1987, Alastair Morgan makes an impassioned appeal to Rupert Murdoch to fully co-operate with the Independent Panel Inquiry into the murder of Daniel Morgan, chaired by Baroness O’Loan.

The full text of the letter Alastair just hand delivered to Rupert Murdoch is here . But the personal appeal towards the end is particularly striking:

The work of the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel is almost entirely dependent on disclosure and I am appealing to you today – on the 28th anniversary of my brother’s murder – to ensure that News Corporation discloses all relevant material in confidence to the Panel.

Daniel’s murder, the police corruption and the ensuing years of failed investigations have been agony for the whole family. Daniel’s children have grown up without a father and my mother is now 86 years old. We need to know the truth about what…

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Cameron’s half truth over his Leveson exoneration

Lord Justice Leveson: Pic courtesy of Leveson inquiry website

Lord Justice Leveson: Pic courtesy of Leveson inquiry website

Yesterday’s clash between Ed Miliband and David Cameron over the Coulson affair was dominated by the Prime Minister’s assertion that he had been cleared by the Leveson inquiry of doing anything wrong.

He could happily quote Leveson’s findings which clear not only him but Rebekah Brooks – also now cleared of knowledge of phone hacking by a British jury – of behaving badly in any improper relationships between Number Ten and  the Murdoch empire.

But delve a bit deeper into this rather contorted report – all one million words of  it – which probably neither Cameron nor Miliband have – and you will find quite a different story.

Go to Volume Four and Appendix Five – and get one of the most devastating critiques of the incestuous relationship between top politicians and the media I have ever read from a High Court judge in my 27 years of political journalism.

As I reported before “he attacks what he calls the ” inappropriate  closeness” between media bosses and successive governments not just now – but for over 35 years. Thatcher, Major, Blair, Brown and Cameron are all indicted in a damning charge sheet.

He baldly states “ politicians have conducted themselves in a way that I do consider has not served the public interest”.

He accuses them of being vulnerable to unaccountable interests, missing clear opportunities to address  public concern about the culture, practices and ethics of the press and  seeking “ to control ( if not manipulate) the supply of news and information to the public in return for expected or hoped-for favourable treatment by sections of the press.”

He concluded that all this gave rise to “legitimate perceptions and concerns that politicians and the press have traded power and influence in ways which are contrary to the public interest and out of public sight. These perceptions and concerns are inevitably particularly acute in relation to the conduct by politicians of public policy issues in relations to the press itself.”

Some exoneration for Mr Cameron and his predecessors!

If Labour had been sharp enough yesterday Ed Miliband could have rebutted Cameron’s confident assertions. But it may not be surprising that he missed it – because of the mismatch  between  Leveson’s conclusions and his comments on the sad state of the relationship between leading politicians and  media proprietors. It has close similarities to the way the Hutton inquiry exonerated Blair and Campbell despite revealing some devastating facts.

But in no way can either Cameron or Murdoch be complacent about their respective roles in trading power for influence which is at the heart of why both the mainstream media and politicians are widely distrusted by the general public.

And with more to come no politician can afford to brush this aside as ” a here today, gone tomorrow” story!

 

It’s grim down under: Australia, Murdoch and political control – Granville Williams

While the jury is out on the phone hacking trial, this rather damning article reveals that Murdoch never sleeps and is already planning to consolidate his overwhelming power in Australia with the help of Australia’s new Murdoch friendly PM,Tony Abbott. Granville Williams rightly says the issue of media ownership is a major political issue and should be raised in the run up to the general election in the UK.

Inforrm's Blog

AbbottMurdochA report in the Brisbane Times, 12 June 2014, revealed Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his chief-of-staff, Peta Credlin, spent more than 2½ hours at Mr Murdoch’s apartment near Central Park in New York on Tuesday evening, 10 June.

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Phone Hacking Trial: Andy Coulson, News Of The World had culture of “secrecy” and “intrigue” – Martin Hickman

Andy Coulson begins his defence by telling how reporters jealously guarded their contacts amid clashes over egos and rivalry across the newsroom

Inforrm's Blog

media_andy_coulson_2Day 90, Part 1:    The News of the World had a culture of “secrecy” and “intrigue” where reporters closely guarded their contacts, Andy Coulson told the phone hacking trial today.

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Phone Hacking Trial: Brooks: I will “break the legs” of anyone poaching my PA, draft autobiography reveals – Martin Hickman

Amazing! A sneak preview of Rebekah Brooks’ autobiography is read in court praising Cheryl Carter for her 16 years service and meticulous memory while Brooks has told the court Cheryl was scatty and she once confused MI5 with MFI in talking to Rupert Murdoch.

Inforrm's Blog

Brooks and CarterDay 78, Part 2:   Rebekah Brooks joked that she would “ break the legs ” of anyone poaching her long-serving PA Cheryl Carter, the hacking trial heard today.

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