Phone Hacking

Part of Business of the House (Today) – in the House of Commons at 1:42 pm on 6th July 2011.

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Photo of Chris Bryant Chris Bryant Shadow Minister (Justice) (Political and Constitutional Reform) 1:42 pm, 6th July 2011

That is my next sentence.

Many people out in the wider world may not care much whether Parliament is lied to—although I think we should—but this House came into existence to hold what was then the sole power in the land, the Crown and then the Government, to account. Where we now fail often, and sometimes miserably, is in holding the other powers in the land to account. We must do that properly from now on, and this is one such instance. We politicians have colluded for far too long with the media: we rely on them, we seek their favour, and we live and we die politically because of what they write and what they show, and sometimes that means we lack the courage or the spine to stand up when wrong has occurred.

We have let the Press Complaints Commission delude us into thinking that it is genuinely independent and has a bite that everybody is frightened of. Sometimes, we may even have fallen for the threats that have been made when we have spoken out. I know of several Members who have led this debate who have received threats.

We have let one man have far too great a sway over our national life. At least Berlusconi lives in Italy, but Murdoch is not resident in this country; he does not pay tax here and has never appeared before a Select Committee of this House. No other country would allow one man to garner four national newspapers, to be the second largest broadcaster, and to have a monopoly on sports rights and first-view movies. America, the home of the aggressive entrepreneur, does not allow that, and we should not.

Of course the proposed takeover of BSkyB should be put on ice while the police investigation is ongoing. The executive and non-executive directors have completely failed in their legal duty to tackle criminality in the company in question, and it must surely be in doubt, at least, whether some of them are fit and proper people to run a media company.

There are many other questions. Who is paying Glenn Mulcaire’s legal fees now? Is News International paying them? Was Clive Goodman paid off handsomely when he came out of prison? What did Rebekah Wade, Andy Coulson and Les Hinton know, and when did they know it? Why has so much material suddenly appeared in News International’s archives? I do not want to be partisan but there is one remaining question: did the Prime Minister ever ask Andy Coulson what really went on at the News of the World before he appointed him to work, on the taxpayers’ bill, at No. 10 Downing street?

I hope that those who broke the law at the News of the World and those who covered it up will be brought to justice. I hope the Metropolitan police’s now tarnished reputation will be restored. I hope the victims, especially the ordinary members of the public who were targeted, will get justice as well. I hope we will all get to know the truth, but even more importantly than all of this, I hope that the British media, who for so long have had a worldwide renown for craftsmanship, for tough intelligence and for robust investigative journalism, will rediscover their true vocation: to bring the truth to light truthfully, honestly, and legally. None of that will happen until we establish the whole unvarnished truth, and that, I believe, needs a public inquiry, and it needs it now.


Jean James
Posted on 7 Jul 2011 2:28 pm (Report this annotation)

Not only is the Press Complaints Commission not truly independent, neither is the Independent Police Complaints Commission.They are biased (to say the least). These organizations are merely a shop front, set up to fool the public. That goes for human rights organizations too, especially those in the UK that do absolutely nothing to defend the rights of the British public. I would like to say that not only do they do nothing to defend the rights of the British public; they do nothing. The public is not fooled by any of this. It's about time there was a public inquiry into the whole lot of them.