Phone Hacking

Part of Business of the House (Today) – in the House of Commons at 4:16 pm on 6th July 2011.

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Photo of Michael Meacher Michael Meacher Labour, Oldham West and Royton 4:16 pm, 6th July 2011

I would love to give way to my right hon. Friend, but I am under instructions not to give way.

In particular, the idea cooked up by News International that putting Sky News into a separate company somehow preserves media plurality is utterly spurious. Newco, the company that will run Sky News, will be dependent on News Corporation for 85% of its revenues and for access to the market, and the safeguards for editorial independence are weak and of the kind that News International has repeatedly undermined before. Neither Ofcom nor the Office of Fair Trading regards this arrangement as a sustainable solution, the two-week consultation period was clearly inadequate, and the arrangement puts far too much power in the hands of the Secretary of State rather than independent regulators. Those are all very strong reasons why the Secretary of State has to look at this again, after a pause, which the whole House is asking for.

Lastly, I want to say something about the Press Complaints Commission, which is surely one of the most ineffective performers in the regulatory landscape. It played absolutely no role whatever in uncovering the phone hacking revelations; indeed, it far too readily dismissed The Guardian’s original warnings nearly two years ago. I really do think that the PCC has been so poor that the public inquiry should look again at the future of self-regulation after so many cautions, including David Mellor’s warning 20 years ago—