08/07/2011 Daily Politics


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


former director of the medications is arrested in connection with the


phone hacking scandal. The Prime Minister says the relationship


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


just pointing the finger at this individual journalist or that


individual newspaper. It is no good actually just criticising the


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


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


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


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


have to answer. And where did this week's


revelations leave the press and politicians?


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


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


director of the communications for the Conservative Party was


attending a police station, the Prime Minister was holding an


impromptu press conference at Downing Street. He announced two


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


the police investigations that followed. This will start work when


the police investigation has concluded. A second inquiry will


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


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


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


journalists that the political classes were guilty of not waking


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


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


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


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


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


relating to which other on the basis of total transparency and


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Brooks, the current executive of News International, should have


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


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


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


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


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


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


proved himself as an effective person in opposition and it was


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


think this morning it is probably something that David and Andy


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


between journalists and use their proprietors and broadcasters had to


effectively be changed. -- newspaper proprietors. But what


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


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


relationship between Parliament and Jonas has always been strong,


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


She is entitled to have a conversation with a politician.


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


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


answer about the dysfunctional relationship between Gordon Brown


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


happened with your phone hacking. You have probably regarded the


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


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


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


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


Conservative Party, it did so because its readers have already


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


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


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


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


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


that press regulation would be dangerous. Anything that is


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


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


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


Reading these dead newspapers, clearly not holding the leaked to


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


firing line. The Met Police initially launched an inquiry into


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


editor Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire jailed.


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


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


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


Operation Weeting was launched, following what the Met called


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


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


now also come on the police following News International


handing over emails which allegedly show tens of thousands of pounds


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


they were authorised by Andy Coulson, who was arrested this


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


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


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


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


of "any specific cases". The Independent Police Complaints


Commission has now launched an inquiry into the allegations with


the watchdog's deputy chairman Deborah Glass saying the inquiry


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


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


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


judicial review into the police inquiry.


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


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


widespread phone hacking, was it because they were implicated?


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


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


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


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


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


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


no evidence, in the same way politicians on the parliamentary


committee refused to recall Rebekah Brooks to give evidence because


they were threatened aspects of their private life would be made


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


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


relationship between the police and journalists, and Rebekah Brooks did


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


threatened with being jailed, refusing to say who their


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


And lest the newspapers are prepared to offer up the police


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


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


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


paid for information, very difficult to do anything unless you


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


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


fulfil their legal obligation to investigate it properly first time


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


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


the Prime Minister saying they must take responsibility? There is


clearly police negligence here for a mixture of reasons. Various


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


tabloid and crime reporters have had a close relationship which has


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


clearly massively out of control. Failure to investigate looks


extremely culpable. Everyone wondered after the first, why debt


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


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


newspaper editors? Police culpability will form the basis of


one inquiry. When there is a discussion about general media


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


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


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


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


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


one can justify, particularly pursuing stories of incredibly


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


producing evidence about telephoning? The only do when they


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


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


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


ability to investigate its scandal and wrongdoing would be restricted.


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


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


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


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


the Business Secretary and using evidence and subterfuge, they


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


close relationship between the media, the police and politicians.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


The MoD had absent-mindedly mislaid assets worth millions.


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


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


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


government contract to a German rival. When these thousands join


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


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


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


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


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


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


been appropriate if relationships with the press by making at hoc


judgments based on the politics of the moment about commercial issues


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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