MURDOCH & THE PHONE HACKING SAGA

Murdoch link

to phone hacking

fallout deepens

Paola Totaro

January 25, 2011

David Cameron ... friendly dinners.
David Cameron … friendly dinners. Photo: Reuters

LONDON: The political fallout from the News of the World phone-hacking scandal has intensified amid claims of a Scotland Yard cover-up and friendly dinners between Downing Street and the Murdoch family.

Despite the resignation of Andy Coulson as Downing Street’s director of communications, the links between the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, and Rupert Murdoch’s empire have once again been thrown into the spotlight just days before the media tycoon is due to fly to London.

The Independent revealed that James Murdoch, son of Rupert and chairman of News Corporation in Europe and Asia, was a guest at a private dinner with Mr Cameron just days after the Prime Minister stripped the Liberal Democrat business secretary, Vince Cable, of responsibility for the crucial decision on whether News Corp should be allowed to buy the 61 per cent of BSkyB it does not already own.

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Rupert Murdoch ... his son James reportedly had dinner with David Cameron.
Rupert Murdoch … his son James reportedly had dinner with David Cameron. Photo: Reuters

The dinner was held at the home of Rebekah Brooks, chief executive of News International, in Churchill, Oxfordshire, and both Mr Cameron and his wife, Samantha, were present.

The highly controversial decision on the takeover was handed to the Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, after Mr Cable was secretly taped telling undercover reporters that he had ”declared war” on Rupert Murdoch.

Mr Coulson’s resignation at the weekend has also renewed interest in police handling of the original investigation into the hacking affair, with claims of a cover-up and calls that the new investigation, announced a few weeks ago by the Crown Prosecution Service, be handed to a different police force or to the Inspectorate of Constabulary.

The Liberal Democrat Energy Secretary, Chris Huhne, criticised the police, saying they had dismissed his calls for a full inquiry, and the former prime minister Gordon Brown has asked police if his phones had been affected when he was chancellor.

A parliamentary inquiry into the row begins to gather evidence this week, but the deputy Labour leader, Harriet Harman, has demanded a fresh inquiry.

Mr Coulson quit as editor of Mr Murdoch’s News of the World in 2007 after the paper’s royal reporter admitted hacking royal phones.

Although Mr Coulson insisted he had no knowledge of the practice, the scandal has riveted London and been the focus of continuing inquiries by Murdoch media rivals, including The Guardian and The Independent.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

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