12/07/2011 Daily Politics


12/07/2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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that his personal life had been intruded upon by journalists

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

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had my lawyers' files effectively blacked, with someone getting

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

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

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

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proof that News International was involved in hiring people to get

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

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

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known criminals, criminals with records. Criminals who sometimes

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

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

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

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underhand tactics, by using criminal elements. People will

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

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

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work? News International put out a

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

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they did insist that their information about Fraser Brown had

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not been obtained illegally. How significant is this Gordon Brown

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

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

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

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real legitimate public interest in that, however the material was

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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discussion going about the village of Westminster over these past few

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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most enormous personal regard for Rupert Murdoch, he told the

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interviewer. There is nothing unusual in the prime minister

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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the British bring. -- British spring. William Hague

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

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

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

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the police officers involved in the original investigation into phone

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

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

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

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Metropolitan Police who has been criticised for deciding in 2009 not

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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way accepting that I accept responsibility that News

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

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

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

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you not properly review the evidence that was sitting in bags

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

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

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there was new material in there that would justify the investment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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looking for evidence about that indictment. Your responsibility was

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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significant from Ian Blair, the commissioner when the first

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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extent by the original investigation. John Yates was asked

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

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

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

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

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

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impression, and we as journalists were given the impression that

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

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

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

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

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

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

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relationship with News International. Some of whom end up

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

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

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John Yates was saying was misinterpreted because he was using

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

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he recognised he was being misunderstood. In relation to the

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

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

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relationship that needs a clear ethical framework. A former

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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among senior politicians in this country, such hostility to the

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

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

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unique situation where the police have a relationship with the

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

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scores being settled? People deflecting attention from their

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

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

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

:17:25.:17:30.

newspaper, Devon and Cornwall are invested in a major investigation

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

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

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a complete collapse of trust in the competence and integrity of

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

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

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

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

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

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reflectors of our electorate. There are certain occasions when the

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whole purpose of parliamentary democracy works and we are

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

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

:18:43.:18:49.

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

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

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

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

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

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

:19:08.:19:11.

will be publishing proposals for reforming the electricity market.

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

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

:19:19.:19:22.

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

:19:22.:19:27.

same time. Energy Secretary Chris Huhne will unveil his electricity

:19:27.:19:33.

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

:19:33.:19:36.

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

:19:36.:19:40.

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

:19:40.:19:48.

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

:19:49.:19:52.

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

:19:52.:19:56.

to upgrade the grid. And the government is forecasting that

:19:56.:19:59.

electricity consumption will double by 2050, as heating and road

:19:59.:20:06.

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

:20:06.:20:09.

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

:20:10.:20:14.

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

:20:14.:20:24.

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

:20:24.:20:28.

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

:20:28.:20:30.

Association of Electricity Providers, which speaks on behalf

:20:30.:20:40.

of anyone and everyone who generates electricity.

:20:40.:20:44.

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

:20:44.:20:48.

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

:20:48.:20:54.

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

:20:54.:21:01.

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

:21:01.:21:07.

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

:21:07.:21:12.

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

:21:12.:21:19.

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

:21:19.:21:24.

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

:21:24.:21:28.

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

:21:28.:21:34.

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

:21:34.:21:39.

generators are still making a windfall according to one report.

:21:40.:21:45.

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

:21:45.:21:51.

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

:21:51.:21:57.

government to create a framework in which the energy companies can

:21:58.:22:02.

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

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

:22:09.:22:14.

I understand that. But he acknowledged the assessment that in

:22:14.:22:21.

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

:22:21.:22:26.

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

:22:26.:22:32.

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

:22:32.:22:38.

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

:22:38.:22:44.

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

:22:44.:22:50.

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

:22:50.:22:55.

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

:22:55.:22:59.

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

:22:59.:23:03.

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

:23:03.:23:13.
:23:13.:23:18.

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

:23:18.:23:22.

Paper is designed to attract investment, it may well attract

:23:22.:23:26.

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

:23:26.:23:30.

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

:23:30.:23:34.

our industry at the moment do not have particularly attractive

:23:34.:23:39.

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

:23:39.:23:42.

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

:23:42.:23:45.

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

:23:45.:23:53.

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

:23:53.:23:56.

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

:23:56.:24:06.
:24:06.:24:13.

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

:24:13.:24:17.

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

:24:18.:24:27.

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

:24:27.:24:30.

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

:24:30.:24:35.

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

:24:35.:24:38.

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

:24:38.:24:42.

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

:24:42.:24:48.

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

:24:48.:24:52.

really explained how they would overcome the fundamental economic

:24:52.:24:56.

problem, have you can have one interest rate for different

:24:56.:24:59.

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

:24:59.:25:06.

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

:25:06.:25:11.

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

:25:11.:25:14.

government in Britain, indeed leading members of rival parties in

:25:14.:25:17.

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

:25:17.:25:25.

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

:25:25.:25:30.

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

:25:30.:25:34.

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

:25:34.:25:38.

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

:25:38.:25:44.

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

:25:44.:25:49.

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

:25:49.:25:54.

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

:25:54.:26:01.

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

:26:01.:26:05.

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

:26:05.:26:09.

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

:26:09.:26:13.

they had been speculating on the system apparently succeeding. The

:26:13.:26:17.

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

:26:17.:26:19.

discomfort over just Portugal, Ireland and Greece they're

:26:19.:26:22.

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

:26:22.:26:28.

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

:26:28.:26:32.

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

:26:32.:26:37.

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

:26:37.:26:41.

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

:26:41.:26:47.

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

:26:47.:26:53.

After that who knows what will happen. Uncertainly correction

:26:53.:26:56.

Margaret uncertainty and doubt after all that hope. Charles

:26:56.:27:02.

Kennedy, President of the European Movement.

:27:02.:27:07.

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

:27:07.:27:12.

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

:27:12.:27:18.

longer? That sounds like Kennedy prose? Someone called Charles

:27:19.:27:25.

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

:27:25.:27:29.

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

:27:29.:27:34.

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

:27:34.:27:38.

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

:27:38.:27:44.

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

:27:44.:27:50.

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

:27:50.:27:54.

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

:27:54.:28:00.

view you cannot be blamed for economic realities, but the

:28:00.:28:05.

political determination it should be to have Britain within the

:28:05.:28:12.

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

:28:12.:28:20.

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

:28:20.:28:24.

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

:28:24.:28:30.

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

:28:30.:28:35.

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

:28:35.:28:42.

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

:28:42.:28:45.

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

:28:45.:28:47.

Gordon Brown told the BBC he was reduced to tears when News International published that his son Fraser had cystic fibrosis. And then he launched an attack on their links to what he called "the criminal underworld".

The Home Affairs Select Committee has been grilling the policemen in charge of the original investigation. We talk to David Ruffley - former 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.

Also today, the government is 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!

And with us for the whole programme today is former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy.


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