08/07/2011 Daily Politics


08/07/2011

Jo Coburn has the top political stories of the day and is joined by Danny Finkelstein of the Times, Anne McElvoy of The Economist and Lord Prescott.


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Transcript


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Hello and welcome to the Daily Politics. As the Prime Minister's

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former director of the medications is arrested in connection with the

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phone hacking scandal. The Prime Minister says the relationship

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between the politicians and the press must change. It is no good

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just pointing the finger at this individual journalist or that

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individual newspaper. It is no good actually just criticising the

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police. The truth is, to coin a phrase, we have all been in this

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together. The press, politicians, and leaders of all parties, yes,

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including me. He announces two inquiries into the conduct of not

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only the press but also the police. We will look at what questions they

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have to answer. And where did this week's

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revelations leave the press and politicians?

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And with me today, Anne McElvoy of the Economist and Danny Finkelstein

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of the times. We are also joined by Lord Prescott. As the former

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director of the communications for the Conservative Party was

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attending a police station, the Prime Minister was holding an

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impromptu press conference at Downing Street. He announced two

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inquiries. One to be led by a judge into the phone hacking scandal and

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the police investigations that followed. This will start work when

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the police investigation has concluded. A second inquiry will

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look into the press, its ethics and how it is regulated. This will be

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led by a panel of independent experts. David Cameron said he

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hoped it would started work immediately. He'd -- he told

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journalists that the political classes were guilty of not waking

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up to the press. Politicians and the press have spent time courting

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support, not confronting the problems. It is on my watch that

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the music has stopped. I am saying, loud and clear, that things have

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got to change. The relationship needs to be different in future. I

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am not going to pretend there is some nirvana of two separate worlds

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relating to which other on the basis of total transparency and

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edible perfection. That is not real life. But we can do a hell of a lot

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better than what we have done so far. As this scandal shows, while

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it is vital that a free press can tell the truth to power, it is

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equally important that those in power tell the truth to the press.

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Let me just say this about a couple of the individuals concerned. First,

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Andy Coulson, who worked for four years of my director of

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communications. He resigned from the News of the World because of

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the things that happened on his watch. I decided to give him a

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second chance and no one has ever raised serious concerns about how

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he did his job for me. But the second chance did not work out and

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he had to resign all over again. The decision to hire him was mine

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and mine alone and I take full responsibility for it. On the case

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of Rebekah Brooks, as I have said, I don't think it is right for the

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Prime Minister to start picking and choosing who should run and who

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should not run media organisations. But it has been reported that she

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offered her resignation over this and in this situation I would have

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taken it. The Prime Minister saying that the resignation of Rebekah

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Brooks, the current executive of News International, should have

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been accepted. He was also asked if he was warned that Andy Coulson

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might not be a suitable person to employ as head of communications at

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Downing Street. I was not given any specific, actual information about

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Andy Coulson. The decision I took was the same decision right from

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the beginning, that, you know, very bad things have happened at the

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News of the World, he had resigned, I gave him a second chance, he had

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proved himself as an effective person in opposition and it was

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acceptable for him to come into Downing Street. That was the

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decision I took and a decision I will be held responsible for. I was

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not given any specific information that would lead me to change my

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mind. I am checking all of that. David Cameron at that press

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conference. Danny Finkelstein, I was watching that press conference,

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he said repeatedly that the public would have to judge him on his

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decision to take on Andy Coulson as a former director of communications.

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That was a judgment he made, and was he right? The public will judge

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him. What's do you think? I don't think the public have better things

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to do. These issues excite people. Both he and Andy Coulson will

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regret that all of this has happened in retrospect, I suspect.

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We hire people to be very tough with the press, so you tend to hire

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tough press people. I am sure that he would hope that it had worked

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out differently. You take a risk when you do that and it did not

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work out. The judgment will be whether he should have taken him on

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on the basis of assurances. He said there were assurances and he was

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not sure about warnings that were given to him by civil servants,

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maybe by members of his staff, about the suitability of Andy

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Coulson. It is very easy for me to sit here and say that of course you

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made a misjudgment on the date that Andy Coulson is arrested. But I

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shared that misjudgment. Clearly, it was a risk. You do need people

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that are very tough with the media. They tend to have a media career

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behind them and all that that brings with it. Lots of people are

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arrested and nothing ever happens afterwards. We don't know, but I

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think this morning it is probably something that David and Andy

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Coulson which they had not done. the Prime Minister done enough? He

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was pretty open and candid and he said the buck stopped with him and

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he was in it just as much as anyone else. I have been campaigning for a

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long time to get rid of the useless PCC. That is going. The inquiry

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must have a judge come in immediately. Then they must stop

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the shredding that is going on. Medic has a tremendous reputation

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of withholding information. -- Rupert Murdoch. The police inquiry

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is essential and that came about because of the action we took on

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judicial review. They had not done their job properly. On the second

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chance, I wrote to him two years ago to this day, to say that he

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would regret it if he appointed Andy Coulson. That was when he was

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in opposition. The Prime Minister has all the security available in

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the world to ask about people. He did not. That affected his judgment

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and when the truth comes out they will judge the Prime Minister.

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he right? Yes, I think Ahmad point, John Prescott is right. -- on that

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point. He struggled a bit in the press conference on what he had

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known and what he tried to find out. I think he pretended and we let him

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pretend, like in Casablanca. Andy Coulson was effective with the

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press, Danny is right. But that was not the question. There were

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criminal charges hanging over him, and that was beginning to get going

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by the time he got into Downing Street. It looks like a lapse of

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judgment to retain him at that point, even if he had hired him in

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the first place. In terms of the relationship with the press, the

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Prime Minister made a great deal about the fact that cosying up

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between journalists and use their proprietors and broadcasters had to

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effectively be changed. -- newspaper proprietors. But what

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will change? They will not meet the head of the BBC? That is not

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practical. I don't think it is practical, actually. The

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relationship between Parliament and Jonas has always been strong,

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because they are going after stories. I think that is not the

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issue. Their practices in the media and those practices, particularly

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in the case of the News of the World, those practices were a wreck

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-- reprehensible. The idea that you are going to break the relationship

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altogether between politicians and the press, while... Have been was

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self-criticism on David Cameron's part. It was near copper. I did not

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like the spreading of the blame, and we all have to examine

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ourselves, it is like when social workers tell you we are all in it

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and we are all guilty. It is largely about one specific title,

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the News of the World. And New Labour was just the same. That

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includes you, maybe not personally, but in terms of Tony Blair and

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Gordon Brown, they were as close to the Rupert Murdoch empire. All of

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the leaders have been like that and I thought it was terrible. I used

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to argue with Blair and Brown about this. Yes, the press will find ways

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to get information, that is how they get the story, but not by

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using telephone tapping. That is the same. That relationship, if you

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have Christmas dinner together and get close, then... In is that

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healthy? It is not. We have pictures of Tony Blair with Rebekah

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Brooks. I am trying to answer you. Then do. Why is it useful to have

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that relationship? Can I answer now? My experience with Tony Blair

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and Gordon Brown was difficult at times, when the press reported on

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that they were right. One would have some information, and where

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would they get it from? Rebekah Brooks. How the hell does that

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women get this kind of information? She plays them off in politics.

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They don't just eat together, they get political. They have a purpose.

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She is entitled to have a conversation with a politician.

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am trying to get an agreement between two guys, but it is the

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tittle-tattle. News International have a lot of big questions to

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answer about the dysfunctional relationship between Gordon Brown

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and Tony Blair, but that was just their fault. It is how they get

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involved in the politics. That is why they say the son of won it.

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They are trying to get rid of one party and bring in another. -- the

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Sun newspaper won it. Tony Blair and Gordon Brown have a newspaper

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to get across and they want to do so. Hence the fraternisation. What

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the newspapers do with that is up to the newspapers themselves. Tony

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Blair and his team believed that the deal had been done. If Rupert

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Murdoch had been able to pursue his interests in peas, he gave them

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fair wind. That worked both ways. And not convinced that they

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produced new Labour or the Labour Government. They believe that but I

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don't accept it. They play that game, no doubt about it.

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Politicians actually believe it. That is why they play this game.

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Miliband, he is employing Tom Baldwin, part of News International,

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should he not do that? Well, I was concerned. I do the News

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International play that part. I am very suspicious of most people from

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using to National. Danny is putting a good case for Murdoch, the best

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you possibly can. There is no place for the Murdoch role in politics.

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This is turning from cleaning up something that is very bad and that

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everybody is aware of, into you just getting Murdochs. As though

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everything is OK if we get him. I correct that? I would not want

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that to be the position. Murdoch is in the docks because of the issue

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with Glenn Mulcaire and everything. They pointed out that 30 newspapers

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were involved, 300 journalists, doing a legal things to get

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information. This is not just Rupert Murdoch it, it is everybody.

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When I worked for William Hague, he was betrayed as a dead parrot. And

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the reader's thought there was truth in that. When newspapers tell

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people things that are not true, it does not work. Everybody has to

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completely understand why you are angry about it, with what has

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happened with your phone hacking. You have probably regarded the

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coverage as disappointing, too. I can completely understand. But

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don't think it is dangerous to overestimate. If a newspaper

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stepped out of line with where its readers were, it would not get

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support. When The Sun moved from the Labour Party to the

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Conservative Party, it did so because its readers have already

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gone that way. Rupert Murdoch was managing a situation. All of the

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information that came out, I heard James Murdoch say it, we started

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the inquiry voluntarily. Did you howl! It was a judicial inquiry

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into the rock of the police that made them produce it. In order to

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separate this idea of influence and press regulation, it has been said

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that press regulation would be dangerous. Anything that is

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controlling the free press. I think he is right. My opinion might be

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the minority right now. There is a lot to be lost from over regulating

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the press. I have travelled in continental Europe this week.

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Reading these dead newspapers, clearly not holding the leaked to

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:14:49.:14:50.

account, sharing rough-and-tumble. -- holding the elite to account. I

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don't think we should throw the baby out with the bathwater. There

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are many good things about the British press. There is a solution

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to that and er think it is an independent body. If you control

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the press, then it is state press and I don't think we should have

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that. You could not win that argument. You can use a body like

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that. In 1997, dealing with the Human Rights Act, the industry

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fought against any kind of sanction in terms of press complained. They

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wanted it to be self-regulated. You can build on that. You could make

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it work. That is where we have to As the Prime Minister said this

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morning it's not just News of the World journalists who are in the

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frame over the phone hacking scandal, the police are also in the

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firing line. The Met Police initially launched an inquiry into

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phone hacking in 2006, which saw the News of the World's royal

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editor Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire jailed.

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But no one else was implicated. In 2009, the Guardian Newspaper

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produced further allegations of the hacking of thousands of people, but

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the Met chose not to investigate further. By 2011, however,

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Operation Weeting was launched, following what the Met called

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"significant new information". And, in total, five people have been

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arrested and bailed as part of the police investigation. Pressure has

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now also come on the police following News International

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handing over emails which allegedly show tens of thousands of pounds

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were paid to police officers in return for information. And that

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they were authorised by Andy Coulson, who was arrested this

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morning. Andy Coulson has always denied any involvement in, or

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knowledge of, illegal activity. Back in 2003, Rebekah Brooks

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admitted to a Commons Committee that: "We have paid the police for

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information in the past." although she later said she had no knowledge

:16:39.:16:41.

of "any specific cases". The Independent Police Complaints

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Commission has now launched an inquiry into the allegations with

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the watchdog's deputy chairman Deborah Glass saying the inquiry

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will be "robust in its attempts to identify any officer who may have

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committed an offence." with me now is the former Scotland Yard

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Commander, Brian Paddick, who recently won a High Court bid for a

:16:59.:17:07.

judicial review into the police inquiry.

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Welcome to the programme. The first thing to say is, your judgment that

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the police at the end of that investigation, did not reveal

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widespread phone hacking, was it because they were implicated?

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theory, we had more important things to do, we didn't have the

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resources. Which creates in my mind, the adage, a stitch in time saves

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nine. Second excuse, it is important we have positive media

:17:35.:17:39.

coverage because we need the confidence of the public if we are

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going to police effectively. Therefore we mustn't upset them, so

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narrow this down and move on. Third, all these are possible but there is

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no evidence, in the same way politicians on the parliamentary

:17:55.:17:59.

committee refused to recall Rebekah Brooks to give evidence because

:17:59.:18:02.

they were threatened aspects of their private life would be made

:18:02.:18:08.

public, maybe some police officers, they refused to take it further,

:18:08.:18:14.

because they had the same threat. For it is that final point, that

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relationship between the police and journalists, and Rebekah Brooks did

:18:19.:18:23.

reveal something when she said they had paid police officers which was

:18:23.:18:33.
:18:33.:18:33.

illegal, although at the time, it wasn't picked up. When Ian Blair

:18:33.:18:43.
:18:43.:18:52.

became commissioner, he went on a charm offensive. I know the sort of

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thing you're talking about. Inviting used -- news editors to

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dinners. People were coming away with a worse impression after the

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dinner than before, but that's another issue. Why weren't you

:19:10.:19:15.

saying anything? As a senior officer? As far as offices being

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paid for information, it is very difficult to establish who is being

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paid, how much, and less... At a lot of information was going into

:19:30.:19:34.

the press, some obviously from the police. Without the active co-

:19:34.:19:38.

operation as we now have of News International offering up the names

:19:38.:19:42.

of people being paid. Journalists have gone to court and being

:19:42.:19:47.

threatened with being jailed, refusing to say who their

:19:47.:19:51.

informants are. That would apply whether that was a police officer.

:19:51.:19:55.

And lest the newspapers are prepared to offer up the police

:19:55.:20:00.

informers, they will get away with it. You are putting the onus back

:20:00.:20:03.

on the press and not looking inside the police. Did you think the

:20:03.:20:08.

police dealt with those allegations properly? As far as money being

:20:08.:20:12.

paid for information, very difficult to do anything unless you

:20:12.:20:21.

have the active co-operation of the Police -- Press. The phone hacking,

:20:21.:20:27.

we have won a right to judicial review, the police waiting did not

:20:27.:20:31.

fulfil their legal obligation to investigate it properly first time

:20:31.:20:37.

around. Do you think in that case, if Brian Paddick does not feel it

:20:37.:20:43.

was done properly, that the police now are being put into the frame by

:20:43.:20:47.

the Prime Minister saying they must take responsibility? There is

:20:47.:20:52.

clearly police negligence here for a mixture of reasons. Various

:20:52.:20:58.

reasons. This does go back before phone hacking. The police and

:20:58.:21:03.

tabloid and crime reporters have had a close relationship which has

:21:03.:21:07.

produced good stories which people would want to know about. It is

:21:07.:21:12.

clearly massively out of control. Failure to investigate looks

:21:12.:21:18.

extremely culpable. Everyone wondered after the first, why debt

:21:18.:21:26.

-- why they did not press further. Drinking down the pub together to

:21:26.:21:32.

get stories is one thing, payments is another. Were they fearful of

:21:32.:21:42.
:21:42.:21:42.

newspaper editors? Police culpability will form the basis of

:21:43.:21:46.

one inquiry. When there is a discussion about general media

:21:46.:21:50.

ethics, the relationship with the police will become part of that.

:21:50.:21:55.

There is a real issue here. Sometimes, very dubious methods

:21:55.:22:01.

produce very important stories. One example, stolen goods involved in

:22:01.:22:07.

the MPs' expenses story. You have to be careful that you do not, in

:22:07.:22:12.

cleaning up the media, prevent them going tough investigative work. No

:22:12.:22:16.

one can justify, particularly pursuing stories of incredibly

:22:16.:22:21.

dubious public interest, using illegal methods. There is a point

:22:21.:22:28.

that the investigative work of June the less -- journalists is crucial

:22:28.:22:33.

at times in the public interest. It is difficult to keep that separate,

:22:33.:22:40.

you don't want to stop that. issue is, what is the dividing line

:22:40.:22:45.

between private and public interest? The press want it to be

:22:45.:22:49.

totally public interest. Behind this is a campaign for them to be

:22:49.:22:54.

able to print whatever they get in whatever way they do it. I have to

:22:54.:23:00.

say, we have the chief executive before the committee saying, yes,

:23:00.:23:06.

we do pay the police. Why didn't that lead to News International

:23:06.:23:10.

producing evidence about telephoning? The only do when they

:23:10.:23:19.

find they are going to be exposed. As someone who has spent their

:23:19.:23:23.

career as a radical and never been comfortable with the establishment,

:23:23.:23:29.

wouldn't you be uncomfortable with the idea that the newspaper's

:23:29.:23:32.

ability to investigate its scandal and wrongdoing would be restricted.

:23:32.:23:39.

It is difficult to draw these lines. In the current atmosphere,

:23:39.:23:43.

particularly with my newspaper, because we are on the back foot

:23:43.:23:50.

over terrible practices, we accede to too much control... You should

:23:50.:23:54.

have a body by which you can take appellations. Take the one about

:23:54.:24:04.
:24:04.:24:04.

the Business Secretary and using evidence and subterfuge, they

:24:04.:24:12.

shouldn't do it. I agreed the method is questionable but we found

:24:12.:24:15.

that what he really thought and in my view still have to have

:24:15.:24:19.

mechanisms for people to find out what the elite think, not just what

:24:19.:24:24.

they say in front of the camera. Yesterday was a sad day for British

:24:24.:24:28.

journalism, we lost a newspaper that did a lot of good work and

:24:28.:24:31.

revealed a lot of stories that would otherwise not have been told

:24:31.:24:35.

which were generally in the public interest. We have to protect that

:24:35.:24:39.

at the same time as making sure there is not an inappropriately

:24:39.:24:48.

close relationship between the media, the police and politicians.

:24:48.:24:51.

There have been a few other things happening this week, apart from the

:24:51.:25:01.
:25:01.:25:04.

News of the World scandal. Here's Victory for Ed Miliband as Labour

:25:04.:25:07.

MPs voted to deprive themselves of the right to let the Shadow Cabinet.

:25:07.:25:12.

In Afghanistan, a surprise visit by the prime minister to announce the

:25:12.:25:16.

withdrawal of an extra 500 troops, overshadowed when a missing soldier

:25:16.:25:21.

was found dead in Helmand. usually regrettable, all day my

:25:22.:25:27.

thoughts and prayers had been that young man and family fat -- family.

:25:27.:25:37.
:25:37.:25:40.

The MoD had absent-mindedly mislaid assets worth millions.

:25:40.:25:44.

And a government U-turn, the Treasury has scaled back its tax

:25:44.:25:51.

grab on all and gas companies. Grim news for manufacturing as our train

:25:51.:25:56.

maker revealed it would be cutting 1,400 jobs in Derby after losing a

:25:56.:26:01.

government contract to a German rival. When these thousands join

:26:01.:26:06.

the queues of unemployed... Danny Finkelstein and Anne McElvoy

:26:06.:26:16.
:26:16.:26:20.

are still with me. The BSkyB takeover, 156,000 commissions had

:26:20.:26:24.

been handed in to Jeremy Hunt. Consultation closed today. Should

:26:24.:26:32.

the Prime Minster has said, yes, we will pause it officially. He is

:26:32.:26:36.

restricted by the law and he has to follow it. This is not an issue

:26:36.:26:45.

about politics. He cannot start the era where he says I'll not have

:26:45.:26:48.

been appropriate if relationships with the press by making at hoc

:26:48.:26:52.

judgments based on the politics of the moment about commercial issues

:26:53.:26:57.

of sensitivity. If it isn't a legal process, it will fall apart in

:26:57.:27:05.

court. You could allow Ofcom to say, they're not fit and proper. That is

:27:05.:27:10.

their role. Couldn't he say. He is the prime minister. The public

:27:10.:27:19.

might say, why can't you step forward curtain-up really, News

:27:19.:27:26.

International acted... People will say it is about saving Rebekah

:27:26.:27:31.

Brooks. It is more about saving the BSkyB deal, this is a commercially

:27:31.:27:39.

astute company. For David Cameron to say, this looks dead full --

:27:39.:27:44.

dreadful, it would look like summary justice. There will be

:27:44.:27:47.

renewed scrutiny as it should but it should go through the proper

:27:47.:27:56.

channels. It is a bad signal for business. September would be a good

:27:56.:28:01.

time to go back and look at it. Rebekah Brooks, can she stayed in

:28:02.:28:08.

her job? News International had been hugely good employers and have

:28:08.:28:17.

learnt my respect. That's all for this week. Anita will be back with

:28:17.:28:20.

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