The recent revelations and accusations of disgraceful and wholly inexcusable conduct at the News of the World have prompted a record number of constituents to contact me to express their anger. I can only agree. How anyone could hack the phones of murder victims and relatives of bereaved soldiers is incomprehensible.
Those responsible should be subject to the full force of the law and a proper and effective police investigation must now proceed – and it must go wherever the evidence leads. The Independent Police Complaints Commission should also investigate why the original police investigations fell so far short of discovering the truth.
I welcome the Government’s announcement of a judge-led enquiry into what went on – and it is right and proper that individuals can be forced to appear and all evidence will be under oath.
It would have been wholly unacceptable for News Corporation to have been allowed to complete their takeover of BSkyB given these terrible accusations and I took the chance to lobby Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State, on this yeterday. This proposed takeover has now been referred to the Competition Commission for a review which I would expect to take several months at least. OFCOM are also rightly considering whether News Corporation and its directors are fit an proper persons to run a broadcaster.
It is now also unavoidable that we look at the culture, practices and ethics of the Press. For a Government to do this is difficult as any restriction on the free press would be wrong – but we cannot allow a repeat of the illegal activities we saw. I again welcome the decision to hold an independent enquiry.
I wish Government did not involve quite so many reviews – I prefer elected MPs to get on and govern – but given the scale and complexity of this mess it is right that full and detailed consideration takes place.
There is an important lesson here that all politicians should focus on doing what they think is right not what can be spun to sound best on the news that night. It does appear that the leadership of both main parties became to close to the media and somehow we need to get that balance right. I just hope we remember this when the next news cycle starts and that normal service does not resume.
For those asking about how I will vote tomorrow, at this stage I don’t know if the debate will now proceed or, if it does, what the motion will be. I therefore don’t yet know how I’ll vote.