12/07/2011 Daily Politics


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Afternoon, folks. Welcome to the Daily Politics. This story may have


been running for days, but not an hour seems to go by without another


astonishing development in this phone-hacking story. This morning,


Gordon Brown told the BBC he was reduced to tears when News


International published that his son, Fraser, had cystic fibrosis,


and then launched a full-throated attack on their links to what he


called "the criminal underworld". This is the scene right now in the


Home Affairs Select Committee, where they've been grilling the


policemen in charge of the original investigation. We'll bring you the


very latest on what's been said. And we will be talking about other


political news! There is some, you know?! Today, the Government's


going to say how its going to keep carbon emissions down, fuel prices


low and generate enough electricity to keep the lights on, all at the


same time! We'll try to find out just how they're going to do it.


All that in the next half an hour. With us for the duration, former


Liberal Democrat leader, Charles Kennedy. He was then promoted to be


Lord Rector of the University of Glasgow, a far more important


decisions. It is rather nice, you calling me Lord something, I could


get used to that. Well, I wouldn't! Indeed not!


First, as Andrew said, every day is an extraordinary day in this whole


phone-hacking saga. Today is no exception. Early this morning, the


former Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, gave his reaction to allegations


that his personal life had been intruded upon by journalists


working for News International. had my bank account broken into. I


had my lawyers' files effectively blacked, with someone getting


information from my lawyers. My tax returns went missing and one point.


Medical records had been broken into. I don't know how all this


happened, but I know that in two of these instances, there is absolute


proof that News International was involved in hiring people to get


this information. I do know also that the people that they work with,


because this is what really concerns me most, are criminals,


known criminals, criminals with records. Criminals who sometimes


have records of violence as well as fraud. These links with the


criminal underworld mean that there is nothing, I think, that a serious


organisation can say, when it is alleged that they are operating


underhand tactics, by using criminal elements. People will


rightly say, how can a reputable news organisation in this country


run their affairs by using known criminals to carry out much of the


work? News International put out a


statement basically saying "no comment" to all of that. Although


they did insist that their information about Fraser Brown had


not been obtained illegally. How significant is this Gordon Brown


intervention? It is another nail in the coffin. As every day goes by,


there is another outrage. An innocent child, for heaven's sake,


who is born with a terrible condition like that. There is no


real legitimate public interest in that, however the material was


granted. Unless the parents had decided to talk about it, which


they did not. I think it is bad for them. Having said that, and there


will be 110% sympathy for the Browns in this issue, and I share


it. News International say no comment. I think if I was in Gordon


par shoes, I would have no comment be on the statement I made last


night -- Gordon's shoes. wouldn't you, and why is he?


would do so on a personal basis, I would feel distressed about this


coming into the public domain, and I would leave it at that. People


sometimes feel the need to talk to television cameras, maybe get


something off their chest. There is quite a lot of swelling and


discussion going about the village of Westminster over these past few


days. Others had a lot of this stuff come up before the general


election, given the tightness of the result, would have influence


things in a Labour's direction. I think that is fanciful but there is


an element of psychology at work. Is this an element of revenge for a


man who feels personally slighted and attacked? I don't understand


the feeling. It drove him to tears, then he goes to a wedding, he goes


to a summer party. In 2009, he tells the Guardian, I have regular


communications with Rupert Murdoch, as you would imagine. He has the


most enormous personal regard for Rupert Murdoch, he told the


interviewer. There is nothing unusual in the prime minister


talking to Rupert Murdoch. That was before The Sun turned. On


the same day as Mr Brown made his last speech as Prime Minister to


the Labour Party conference, Cade - - came out against him. I was there


at the time. We were in no doubt as to how furious Mr Brown was, how


angry he was, how betrayed he felt, by papers that had supported him


and Mr Blair before. And timed with such a detonation effect, on the


morning of the big speech. There must be a great residual bitterness,


there is no doubt about that. Having said that, let's face it,


politicians across the spectrum have been far too supine, not just


with News International, but with loads of titles. We are all chasing


approval, complimentary remarks, as close as we can get to newspapers,


saying vote for this party, that party. That has always been the way


of things. Have you always found yourself having showers the morning


after, thinking I wish I didn't do that yesterday, cosying up to the


newspapers, but I was frightened not to? Certainly not with News


International, I never expended any energy with the Liberal Democrats,


in my day -- they never expended any energy. That was never a moral


dilemma that I faced. I don't think there was anything terribly


corrupting. The position at the Lib Dems were in 10 years ago is very


different from where we are today. You didn't have the same level of


pressure upon you. You were worried about The Independent and The


Guardian, and that was pretty much it. The New York Times is saying


that all of these MPs coming out of the woodwork, they are calling it


the British bring. -- British spring. William Hague


had a very good joke. He said, 1 million people are marching on our


Palace, meaning Buckingham Palace, and we are completely relaxed!


This morning, a big event in the Commons Select Committee. Some of


the police officers involved in the original investigation into phone


hacking, which didn't seem to get that far, have been giving evidence


to this Home Affairs Select Committee. Not for the first time.


Chief among them, John Yates, the Assistant Commissioner of the


Metropolitan Police who has been criticised for deciding in 2009 not


to reopen an earlier inquiry into the whole scandal. Saying, in


effect, he thought it was job done. Clearly, that wasn't the case. He


was asked by the committee chairman this morning, who work -- who he


was apologising to today. I am regretting, I express regret, we


didn't do enough about dealing with those who are potentially affected.


I hold my hands up. I passionately believe I'm doing the right thing


around these matters. If I'm about to be wrong and have made an error,


I will hold my hands up. Please do not take that admission as in any


way accepting that I accept responsibility that News


International have not done, with regards to this case, from 2005,


2006, 2009, 2010, even up until yesterday. Please do not take that


as an admission that I am accepting responsibility for that. Why did


you not properly review the evidence that was sitting in bags


at Scotland Yard? Because there was nothing to indicate to me, in July


2009, out of the article that was written in The Guardian, that so


there was new material in there that would justify the investment


of resources, to go through all that material. Let me be clear, it


may have been placed in bin bags, as is the common parlance, but it


was in exhibit bags that was placed in bin bags. That material was gone


through by counsel in 2005 and 2006, it was reviewed by counsel in light


of the indictment they had framed. You know that when council is


focused on a particular indictment, they are going to be focused on


looking for evidence about that indictment. Your responsibility was


to look for matters outside of the individual indictment in that case.


You had thousands of pages of documents, why did you not look at


them? The case had been finished. Two people had gone to court and


had been sentenced. All the material... I appreciate the point


about relevance... Had been seen by the council and reviewed by the CPS.


I think it is accepted, I daren't say, that there was nothing in that


Guardian article that said, that is new, we don't know about it in the


police. We knew about that. That was Mr Yates giving evidence


this morning. I think he is still doing so. We are joined by our


political correspondent, Ross Hawkins. When I was watching, I had


never seen this before. A select committee of the House of Commons,


treating a senior police officer of their met with a mixture of


hostility and mockery. -- of the Met. Absolute derision, laughing at


him. He was reading through letters from use on the international


saying, they weren't telling me the truth. One of the MPs -- from News


International. One of the MPs said they -- would you expect MPs to


Four you and I know normally, in the select committee hearings, one


political side favours the witness more than the other side. They


differ in their approach. Right now, everyone on the committee seems


keen to give John Yates a bit of a kicking. A bit earlier, something


significant from Ian Blair, the commissioner when the first


investigation was carried out. He said, 2006, this was not regarded


as terribly significant at the time. He was warning about 50-50


hindsight, everyone has got that now. But the mistakes of the past


are coming back to haunt the police, and the MPs want to make sure they


are seen at the forefront of dragging them up. Thank you. Giving


some flavour of what has been happening. We are joined by David


Ruffley, who was Shadow Minister for Police Reform when the Tories


were in opposition, and Peter Kirkham, who used to be a detective


chief inspector in the Metropolitan Police. David Ruffley, as you look


at what has just been happening, MPs in the Commons calling for Miss


Yeates to go, it is hard to conclude that his position is not


untenable -- calling for Mr Yates to go. I think it is untenable. I


don't think he is lying. He can't answer this question. That the


11,000 pages of documents referred to the details of Milly Dowler,


relatives of 7/7 and also the Soham murders. That was the information


in the bin bags when in 2009, he was asked, is there anything more


could we should be looked at -- looking at? For him not to know, or


not to have reliable lieutenants to go in and say, this is what we have


looked at, is beyond belief. He is not a liar, but he is not competent.


I think there is a wider issue. The London public and the British


public. They think, are the police on top of things? I think the


answer from today's evidence must be no. You have been backs of


evidence full of smoking guns, as it turns out, and you don't bother


looking at their -- you have been bags. They will look at to some


extent by the original investigation. John Yates was asked


to consider whether there was a new evidence which merited the official


-- initial investigation, which she had not been part of. He took the


view that it wasn't, there was nothing new. Effectively took it on


trust that they had done a competent job originally. He wasn't


asked to check whether they had done a competent job. He gave the


impression, and we as journalists were given the impression that


another voice had looked at the original inquiry and rolled it OK.


Now we are being told that is not what has happened. There is


learning in terms of the language that was used, and what it means


and people consider it to mean. are dealing with the police force,


elements you seem to be in the pay of News International -- elements


of whom seem to be. Elements of whom have an incredibly cosy


relationship with News International. Some of whom end up


working for News International. And you are telling us, we need to


learn about the use of language? I am saying on that point, what


John Yates was saying was misinterpreted because he was using


phrases that meant one thing. Nobody put us right. I am not sure


he recognised he was being misunderstood. In relation to the


whole thing, there are serious issues about the whole framework of


how the media and police work together. It is an inevitable


relationship that needs a clear ethical framework. A former


commander of operations at Scotland Yard said at the time Mr Gates was


dealing with a serious terror threat, he had his hands full -- Mr


The police have never been it so well resourced. If he did not have


the resources, it was his duty to say, I do not have the resources


and to be clear what investigation he had done. All the stuff we heard


from Ian Blair about hindsight, this is not acceptable. It is


talking about words. There was a set of smoking guns in the Met it


and they signed up saying there is no more to investigate. John Yates


should have had a team tasked by him to give the right answer. His


position is not tenable but it also asks the questions about police


resources. I hear the nonsense, they had a 50% real-terms increase


in a decade. If he did not have enough officers he should have said


so. They have 70 on it now. Let me ask you this. It is part of my job


to mix with political leaders on the left and right and centre. I


have been doing that a lot in the past week. I have never known,


among senior politicians in this country, such hostility to the


police. Is the Met a where they have lost the confidence of the


political leaders of this country? I am sure they are, this is a


unique situation where the police have a relationship with the


organisation suspected. We have the issue of come up are their old


scores being settled? People deflecting attention from their


failings? Positions deflecting attention on to the police, and on


to the media. This wasn't considered a major issue. There is


a massive market in trade in personal data. In the Guardian


newspaper, Devon and Cornwall are invested in a major investigation


which came to court in 2005, and it was kicked out. Charles Kennedy.


You speak to politicians more than I do, do you agree there is almost


a complete collapse of trust in the competence and integrity of


elements of the police? That is a fair assessment. It is not the


usual suspects with a face like the anti- establishment view. Cabinet


ministers have expressed their concern. It is also a reflection of


this. Going back to the revelations of last week. MPs and, our role


should not be dismissed completely. It sometimes is, as being a


reflectors of our electorate. There are certain occasions when the


whole purpose of parliamentary democracy works and we are


lightning conductors. Every one of us the length and breadth of the


country when the revelations came out, a tidal wave of public anger


was communicated to us. You have seen that affected. We will have to


leave that here. I have a feeling we will be coming back to it. The


News of the World story is gripping us all at Westminster. But, unless


you're famous, or for some other reason you're in the public eye,


it's not going to affect your life very much. One thing that will, is


the sheer cost of gas and electricity. Today, the government


will be publishing proposals for reforming the electricity market.


It doesn't sound like a sexy subject. But the challenge is


enormous. They've got to find a way of generating enough power to keep


the lights on, cut carbon emissions, and keep energy bills down at the


same time. Energy Secretary Chris Huhne will unveil his electricity


market reforms in the Commons this afternoon. He is aiming to redraw


the energy market to ensure that we have the right investment so that


we can cut carbon, as well as guaranteeing the supply, and keep


the lights on. The numbers are staggering. Ofgem says �200 billion


may be required over the next 10-15 years for new power stations, and


to upgrade the grid. And the government is forecasting that


electricity consumption will double by 2050, as heating and road


transport switches to electricity to reduce CO2 emissions. And who is


going to pay for this massive change in the way we generate,


transmit and use electricity? Yes, we, the consumers. Ofgem has


Although Mr Huhne has promised that overall bills will be "down in the


long-run." With us now is David Porter, chief executive of the


Association of Electricity Providers, which speaks on behalf


of anyone and everyone who generates electricity.


Are we in this disaster when it comes to household bills because


the companies have been creaming off profit for such a long time and


not reinvesting? No, that is quite wrong, the companies are major


investors, they are among the UK's big investors. The problem we have


had recently is something different from the one that the White Paper


is seeking to redress. The recent problem has been to do with fuel


price rises. But, the white paper is about securing investments in at


low carbon electricity for the long term. But also it is acknowledged


there has not been the investment in the grid, there will be a


massive investment of �200 billion just to keep things going. Energy


generators are still making a windfall according to one report.


They carry on taking hefty windfall profits. There is some confusion


here. What we are talking about today is a bold move by the


government to create a framework in which the energy companies can


raise �200 billion of investment, mostly in power stations and partly


in the networks. That is designed to deliver low carbon electricity.


I understand that. But he acknowledged the assessment that in


every given that scenario it is going to hit the consumer hard?


think it is a fair bet that prices will rise. They have gone up


recently because of increases in Vauxhall fuel prices, coal and gas.


But, somehow, if we do make this �200 billion of investment, by the


way, the equivalent of building two Channel tunnel's a year for nine


years, if we do make it, the companies have to get a return. And


that eventually finds its way to customers and their bills. There


are those who said his White Paper is tinkering at the margins, there


needs to be a root and branch overhaul, to take the power away


from the Big Six. "stitching up the market" says Tim Yeo. The White


Paper is designed to attract investment, it may well attract


investment from companies that are not in the industry at the moment.


That could be quite important. A good many of the major players in


our industry at the moment do not have particularly attractive


balance sheets. Thank you for coming in to talk to us. Wobbles in


the eurozone are now no great surprise to us. Ireland, Greece and


Portugal have needed and had bailouts. Recently, Italy has felt


the chill of a euro crisis building. So is this currency collapsing and,


if so, what do people like our guest Charles Kennedy, who called


for us to be part if it, think now? There's Euro-scepticism. And then


there's scepticism of the euro. Indeed, some would say they told


you so, from the start. The script was written, not by the British


have necessarily, but by the Bundesbank, they said if you take


monetary policy and give it to a central bank, and had a one size


fits all policy, that interest rates around Europe would not fit


everyone all the time. The euro has always been a wholly political


project, designed to bind Germany into Europe. But no one has ever


really explained how they would overcome the fundamental economic


problem, have you can have one interest rate for different


economies, how you could have a currency without a government. The


fact there isn't a government has proved a fatal flaw. There is an


element of I told you so. Not so gleeful but in sorrow. Yet,


government in Britain, indeed leading members of rival parties in


Britain, sat alongside one another to show their commitment to making


it work. Were they naive? In every tide of human history, there is a


part of the time way you put hope first. Your potential


disappointment you put to one side. As pro-Europeans, we are not in


favour of rushing into the euro head first, we don't believe Europe


is perfect and we will want to see reform takes place. But, we do


believe that Britain can and must lead in Europe. Need reform in


Europe, lead on the euro's benefits for Britain. I think people felt we


were being isolated, this was a political view also. They felt we


should be the heart of Europe in order to influence things. There


was a thought the markets bought into this. People didn't realise


they had been speculating on the system apparently succeeding. The


same people are now speculating on it failing. Now, it's not the


discomfort over just Portugal, Ireland and Greece they're


speculating on. In recent days, Italy is also threatening the


euro's future. If you do not deal decisively with


the small southern countries which are in trouble, if you do not solve


the great problem, it will spread to Spain and Italy. And Italy


cannot be bailed out, it is too large. Over the next three years,


the eurozone will get smaller, the weaker countries will split away.


After that who knows what will happen. Uncertainly correction


Margaret uncertainty and doubt after all that hope. Charles


Kennedy, President of the European Movement.


Who said, the euro despite gloomy predictions has proved to be a


success? We cannot afford, Britain cannot afford to be isolated any


longer? That sounds like Kennedy prose? Someone called Charles


Kennedy. That must have been another Charles Kennedy. You played


a rather fair clip of me from all those years ago, you could have


been prejudicial. In that I was making the point, I was strongly


there and I remained strongly in favour of the euro. And Britain


joining? Not now, obviously. 2000 you said it was time. It is


not going to happen in this Parliament. In your lifetime?


really don't know. I hope it will. Because I have always taken the


view you cannot be blamed for economic realities, but the


political determination it should be to have Britain within the


single European currency if we are within the single trading area.


said at one time, one size does not fit all. Clearly. At the same time,


and it's interesting listening to what has been said at a continental


level, there has to be a political will to get this fixed. If not, the


economic implications for the UK are awful. We have run out of time


for this subject. What a shame. That's all for today. Thanks to our


guests, especially to Charles Kennedy. We'll be back at 11.30am


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