From daily News Line in England:
Saturday, 26 May 2012
Blair at Inquiry on Monday
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair is to appear before the Leveson Inquiry into media standards on Monday.
Under-pressure Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt will give evidence on Thursday, when he will be asked about his office’s links with News Corp during its bid to take over satellite broadcaster BSkyB. Prime Minister Cameron yesterday claimed he did not ‘regret’ asking Hunt to rule on the abortive deal and asserted that Hunt had acted ‘impartially’.
Blair will be questioned over whether his relationship with News Corp owner Rupert Murdoch and the company’s News International subsidiary was too close. Blair’s former trade minister Lord Mandelson told the Inquiry on Monday that the relationship had ‘arguably’ become ‘closer than wise’ but dismissed claims of a ‘Faustian pact’ involving commercial concessions for News Corp in return for support from its newspapers.
Blair travelled to Hayman Island in Australia to address News Corp executives in 1995, as part of a Labour strategy to win over newspapers that had unfavourably portrayed previous leaders Michael Foot and Neil Kinnock. He is also godfather to one of Murdoch’s children.
Current home secretary Theresa May is expected to face questioning about police handling of phone-hacking allegations when she appears on Tuesday along with Education Secretary Michael Gove.
Business Secretary Vince Cable and Justice Secretary Clarke will give evidence next Wednesday.
Gove, a former Times journalist, a newspaper owned by News Corp, is expected to be asked about the frequency of his contacts with senior News Corp executives, as 11 meetings were recorded between the May 2010 general election and July 2011.
Hunt will face questions about whether his overt support for the bid was compatible with his job in overseeing it.
Cameron claimed yesterday that there was no ‘great conspiracy’ between him and Rupert Murdoch in return for support for his government but admitted that the relationship between politicians and the press had become ‘too close’. His comments came as Hunt’s former special adviser Adam Smith began his second day of questioning at the Leveson Inquiry.
Smith told the Inquiry that he was ‘bombarded’ with information from News Corp lobbyist Fred Michel. Smith admitted that he was aware that Michel was trying to extract information during News Corp’s bid for broadcaster BSkyB.
Smith resigned last month after admitting his contact with News Corp had got too close. He told the Inquiry that he had ‘no specific instructions’ on the limits to information he could provide to News Corp.
He added: ‘It wasn’t uncommon to give advance notice of certain statements but I would use my judgement on what to say or what not to say.’
Smith said that officials at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport knew that Michel was his point of contact at News Corp and they would have mentioned Michel by name to Hunt on the ‘odd occasion’.
Counsel to the Inquiry, Robert Jay QC, asked Smith why he resigned, saying ‘no one was criticising you – what did you think of that?’
Smith replied: ‘I thought by this stage that the perception had been created that something untoward had gone on, and that was why I’d offered my resignation the evening beforehand. “Everyone thought I’d have to go” was confirmation in my mind that everyone else thought that.’
British minister called Murdoch aide ‘papa’: here.
Prime Minister Cameron’s former director of communications Andy Coulson [ex-Murdoch empire] was detained by police investigating allegations of perjury yesterday. Coulson was detained at his home in the Dulwich area of London at 6.30am by seven officers from Strathclyde Police and taken to Glasgow for questioning: here.
PRIME minister Cameron claimed yesterday that Andy Coulson, who had resigned as editor of the News of the World and who currently faces charges of perverting the course of justice, misled him when he was interviewed for the job of Tory press chief: here.
The coalition rift began to gape even wider on Sunday after Liberal Democrats indicated they might not stop their MPs voting with Labour to launch an investigation into Jeremy Hunt.
Former Tory prime minister John Major has told the Leveson inquiry that Rupert Murdoch attempted to influence his government’s policy on Europe: here.
Labour MP Chris Bryant electrified the Commons today by accusing Culture Minister Jeremy Hunt of lying to Parliament over his contacts with the Murdoch empire.
David Cameron faced awkward questions about his decision to hire former News of the World editor Andy Coulson as his spin doctor today: here.
IT HAS emerged that Leveson, whose current inquiry was brought into being by Prime Minister Cameron, complained to the UK’s top civil servant after a cabinet minister, Tory Education Secretary Michael Gove, a former Murdoch employee at the Times newspaper, raised ‘concerns’ that his inquiry was targeting the freedom of the press: here.
UK Prime Minister Cameron given kid gloves treatment at Leveson inquiry: here.
The Australian arm of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp said today that it is making a AU$1.97 billion (£1.1bn) bid to take full control of TV company Consolidated Media Holdings.
Murdoch’s News Ltd intensifies media restructuring in Australia: here.
Rupert Murdoch’s media conglomerate News Corp. lobbied in favor of the new Panama free trade pact, according to federal lobbying disclosure forms — a pact that will make it more difficult for the U.S. government to crack down on Panama-related tax abuses. Panama is a notorious tax haven, and News Corp. also operates a subsidiary there. The company’s flagship American news outlets — The Wall Street Journal and Fox News — reported extensively on the three free trade deals passed by Congress last week without disclosing the parent firm’s lobbying activity: here.
Britain’s Leveson Inquiry hit by allegations of political interference: here.
David Cameron’s former spin doctor Andy Coulson and former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks will be charged with phone-hacking, the Crown Prosecution Service said today: here.
Andy Coulson, David Cameron’s former spin doctor, has been charged with illegally paying to get the royal family’s phone numbers: here.
MURDOCH’S POODLE HUNT GETS HEALTH PRIVATISATION JOB: here.
- Tony Blair jeered by students (dearkitty1.wordpress.com)
- Rupert Murdoch has another Twitter #fail | Media Monkey (guardian.co.uk)
- Friends of Rupert Murdoch and David Cameron Charged With Bribery (nymag.com)
- Timeline of UK phone hacking scandal (cnn.com)
- Brooks, Coulson charged over alleged payments to officials (cnn.com)
- Brooks, Coulson Charged in News Corp. Tabloid Bribery Probe – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- Murdoch Rebuffed Christie’s Refusal To Politicize Hurricane Sandy (mediamatters.org)
- Evil Empire Acquires Other Evil Empire (huffingtonpost.com)
- You: Rebekah Brooks severance deal worth ‘around £7m’ (guardian.co.uk)
- Murdoch’s shameful slam of ‘Jewish-owned’ press (cnn.com)
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Monday, June 11, 2012
Ex-UK PM Brown: Murdoch lied under oath to inquiry
By JILL LAWLESS
The Associated Press
Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown lambasted Rupert Murdoch before Britain’s media ethics inquiry on Monday, claiming the media mogul had lied under oath to the inquiry and saying that a Murdoch tabloid had undermined the British war effort in Afghanistan.
In an often bitter attack, Brown directly contradicted Murdoch’s claim that Brown had vowed to “make war on your company” during an abusive phone call after Murdoch’s The Sun tabloid switched its support from Brown’s Labour Party to the rival Conservatives.
“It didn’t happen,” said Brown, adding that he had been shocked to hear Murdoch make the allegation to the inquiry in April. “This call did not happen, this threat was not made.”
Murdoch’s News International company fired back, saying in a statement that the mogul stood by his testimony.
Brown was the first in a string of current and former political leaders to appear this week at the inquiry, set up amid a tabloid phone hacking scandal to examine malpractice in the British media and too-cozy ties among U.K. politicians, police and the press. Among the issues the inquiry is addressing is whether newspapers have too much power over the country’s political agenda.
Brown told the judge-led inquiry that The Sun was guilty of “the conflation of fact and opinion” in its coverage of the Afghanistan conflict and of his premiership.
He said instead of covering the difficult decisions facing his government, The Sun had concluded “that I personally did not care about our troops in Afghanistan.”
He said the newspaper had made a series of spurious claims, for example that he had fallen asleep during a service of remembrance for dead troops. Brown said he had been bowing his head in prayer.
Brown asserted that The Sun’s coverage had done “huge damage” to the British war effort against the Taliban. The former prime minister said the press had “failed this country” by focusing on opinions and ephemera when the war in Afghanistan was at a crucial stage.
“I’m afraid half the country (Afghanistan) is falling into the hands of the Taliban,” Brown said, accusing the press of failing to reflect this.
The Sun’s political editor, Tom Newton Dunn, denied Brown’s allegations, saying on Twitter that the newspaper had given the conflict prominent coverage. “Military loathed Brown because they felt he didn’t care about them. Sun reported that, but Gordon rewrites history to shoot the messenger,” he tweeted.
Brown had a testy relationship with the powerful Murdoch press during his 2007-2010 term in office. The Sun, renowned for its political clout, backed the Conservative party over Brown’s Labour in the 2010 national election. The election ejected Brown from power and produced a Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government under Prime Minister David Cameron.
Two years on, Brown appeared bruised by his relationship with a press that often characterized him as prickly and awkward.
Brown spoke of his pain at seeing leaked details of his young son’s health splashed in The Sun. The tabloid revealed in 2006 that Brown’s infant son Fraser had been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis.
Brown said he and his wife Sarah had been distressed by the leak — which apparently came from a hospital worker — but acknowledged that Sarah had remained friendly with Rebekah Brooks, the Sun’s then-editor, and even organized a 40th birthday party for her in 2008.
“I think Sarah is one of the most forgiving people I know,” Brown said. “I think she finds the good in everyone.”
Brooks, 44, along with her husband and four aides, was charged last month with conspiring to pervert the course of justice in connection with the phone hacking scandal. They are the first people to be charged in the current investigation into tabloid wrongdoing, which has shaken Britain’s media, police and political establishments. More than 40 people have been arrested and questioned.
Police investigating phone hacking on Monday handed over the files of five journalists to prosecutors, who will decide whether to bring charges.
The ethics inquiry was set up last year after revelations that Murdoch’s now-defunct News of the World had hacked the mobile phone voice mails of scores of celebrities, politicians and even crime victims in its quest for scoops. Murdoch closed the paper in July.
Britain’s current Treasury chief, George Osborne, testified after Brown. He sought to emphasize his government’s independence from Murdoch, denying suggestions that he’d waved through Murdoch’s multibillion-pound (dollar) bid for lucrative satellite broadcaster BSkyB in return for the mogul’s political support. Murdoch dropped the BSkyB bid after the phone hacking scandal exploded.
“It is complete nonsense, and the facts simply don’t bear it out,” Osborne said.
Osborne was also quizzed about his role in hiring a former editor of the News of the World, Andy Coulson, as communications chief for the Conservative Party.
Coulson, who eventually became Cameron’s communications chief, was forced to resign amid the scandal last year. Critics claim that Osborne and Cameron had overlooked allegations of wrongdoing swirling around Coulson because of the ex-editor’s close links to Murdoch’s News International, and especially to Brooks, a friend and former colleague of his.
Osborne denied that Coulson’s Murdoch connections were key to hiring him.
“He was the best candidate for the job,” Osborne said.
Cameron is due to testify before the inquiry on Thursday.
Associated Press Writer Raphael Satter contributed to this report. Jill Lawless can be reached at: http://twitter.com/JillLawless
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Rupert “Fox News” Murdoch is in meltdown mode. Three of his aides face sanctions from Parliament for lying, another has been charged by UK prosecutors with “conspiracy to pervert the course of justice,” and Murdoch himself is accused of having instructed then-Prime Minister Tony Blair to block the phone-hacking investigation.
In the U.S. there is no Congressional investigation yet, but over 30,000 of us have demanded one. Please demand an investigation of Rupert Murdoch – and then forward this to everyone you know who puts truth and justice above Fox News.
Thanks for all you do!
A law-breaking U.S. company shouldn’t be held accountable only by the U.K.
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For decades, Rupert Murdoch has been the most powerful media mogul on earth – anointing, manipulating and intimidating political leaders across the globe, including U.S. presidents.
Headquartered in the U.S., Murdoch’s News Corp. owns dozens of American outlets including Fox News, Fox Broadcasting, Wall Street Journal and New York Post. His outlets are powerful opinion-shapers; no one pushed harder for the Iraq invasion than Murdoch and his media.
A British Parliamentary committee recently declared Rupert Murdoch “not a fit person” to run a major company. The committee found that Murdoch had “turned a blind eye and exhibited willful blindness” while his London newspapers massively hacked into private citizens’ phones and computers – and bribed police officials.
When a U.S. company bribes foreign officials, it violates the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
Let’s urge the U.S. Senate to investigate and hold public hearings on the corrupt practices of Murdoch and News Corp.
For almost a year, while this scandal involving a U.S. company dominated the news in England, our Congress looked away. Weeks ago, the British attorney whose lawsuits broke open the scandal alleged that Murdoch’s journalists committed the crime of phone-hacking against victims in the U.S.
The Senate Commerce Committee has oversight of American business and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). While British broadcast regulators today investigate whether Murdoch is fit to hold a broadcast license in England, the American FCC shows no interest in Murdoch’s fitness to possess 27 U.S. TV licenses.
Urge Senate Commerce Committee Chair Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.) to initiate an investigation of News Corp. corruption and law-breaking.
After it starts investigating News Corp., we will urge the committee to probe why the FCC has taken our public property – the broadcast airwaves – and turned them over, for free, to a handful of giant conglomerates (Murdoch, Disney, General Electric, Comcast, etc.)
Please forward this email to friends and family.
It’s time we “occupy the airwaves.”
The RootsAction team
P.S. RootsAction is an independent online force endorsed by Jim Hightower, Barbara Ehrenreich, Cornel West, Daniel Ellsberg, Glenn Greenwald, Naomi Klein, Bill Fletcher Jr., Laura Flanders, former U.S. Senator James Abourezk, Coleen Rowley, and many others.
The Independent: Rupert Murdoch Executives Face Sanctions Over Hacking ‘Lies’
Daily Mail: ‘Rupert Murdoch DID Tell Tony Blair to Stop Me Pursuing Phone-Hacking Claims’
The Economic Times: Murdoch Aide Rebekah Brooks Charged in Phone-Hacking Scandal
News Corp empire to split in two
MEDIA: Rupert Murdoch said today that he will split his News Corporation empire in two.
The media giant will separate into a publishing company, including US, British and Australian newspapers and book publishers, and an entertainment one made up mostly of cable networks, film and television production studios as well as pay-TV businesses in Europe and India.
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