David Cameron Announces Full-Scale Inquiry Into Phone Hacking, Media Regulation And Police

David Cameron

Huffington Post UK   First Posted: 13/07/11 13:49 Updated: 12/09/11 11:12

Prime Minister David Cameron has announced "one inquiry in two parts" that will cover the phone hacking scandal and also encompass the relationship between the police and the media, as well as regulation of the press.

The independent public inquiry will have the power to summon journalists, newspaper executives, police and politicians to give evidence under oath, Prime Minister David Cameron said.

Cameron announced that the inquiry would be led by Lord Justice Leveson who will report to both the Home Secretary and the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

Cameron said Leveson will look into general issues including "the culture, practices and ethics of the press", and will recommend a new model of regulation for newspapers.

Leveson's inquiry will also specific allegations of "unlawful or improper conduct at the News of the World and other newspapers, and the way in which management failures may have allowed this to happen".

"We all want the same thing," Cameron said. "Press, police and politicians that serve the public."

Labour leader Ed Miliband said that he broadly welcomed the inquiry, and added the he was glad the government "had followed (Labour's) advice".

Read Cameron's full statement here.

Read the full draft terms of reference for the inquiry here.

Following the statement, Labour MP Tom Watson asked about possible "rogue elements" inside the intelligence services and their dealings with the media. The prime minister responded that the inquiry would follow evidence wherever it leads.

Labour MP Chris Bryant told The Huffington Post that he supported the inquiry, but said it should look closely at the role of private investigators: "They have got to look at the role of private investigators. The newspapers employ them so they'll have liability afterwards."

Martin Moore, director of the Media Standards Trust and one of the founders of the Hacked Off campaign for a judge-led inquiry, cautiously welcomed the announcement: "We're part way there, we're certainly not all of the way there. We just received the terms of reference, we're going through them."

Moore added that the details of the inquiry would determine how successful it would be: "It will be silly to start making judgements now. Details are incredibly important here, (we need to) look at them reflect on that afterwards and see if we have indeed got the results we need."

In parliament Cameron also gave an update on the criminal investigation into phone hacking and payments to police. He said of the operation led by Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers: "Her team is looking through 11,000 pages containing 3,870 names, including around 4,000 mobile and 5,000 landline phone numbers. They have contacted 170 people so far - and they will contact every single person named in those documents."

On the BSkyB bid Cameron said: "This business should not be focused on mergers and takeovers, but on clearing up the mess and getting their house in order."

Any executives who knew or ordered phone hacking should lose their jobs, Cameron said: "The people involved whether they were directly responsible for the wrongdoing, sanctioned it, or covered it up however high or low they go must not only be brought to justice they must also have no future role in the running of a media company in our country."

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@ garethmiller : Gordon Brown may end up getting more public admiration now than during any of the time he was in office, astonishing speech #hacking #NOTW

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@ psbook : Tory MP @nadhimzahawi claims Rebekah Wade and Elisabeth Murdoch stayed overnight at Chequers

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@ SkyNewsBreak : Press Complaints Commission issues statement welcoming terms of inquiry into media ethics

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@ ShippersUnbound : Bercow now introduces 4 minute limit on speeches -- after Brown's 25 minute opus. Biased? Never!

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Gordon Brown said that Cameron had to explain why his media policy was "so similar" to News International's.

A Tory MP, Charlie Elphicke, asked by Brown's government opposed a full criminal investigation of News International. Brown replied that it was opposed by the police and the civil service.

He concluded by calling for a new relationship between the media and the public.

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Parliament is in a severely rowdy mood. Brown is being constantly heckled with shouts of "sit down" and can barely be heard. Bercow screams "order" so hard it looks like his head might pop.

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Maisie McCabe says on Twitter: "Just spoken to Ofcom - they are not about to announce anything to do with a fit and proper test. Couldn't explain why Gordon Brown said that."

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@ davidfolkenflik : EX PM G Brown says UK regulator OfCom will review whether News Corp is "fit and proper" owner of 39% share of BSkyB it currently has.

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Former-PM Gordon Brown says it is "like the old days" for him. "The government on the run, the opposition in pursuit, a headline in the papers saying 'Brown Wrong', another example of the close relationship I have with News International," he says.

Brown says that he has always defended the press and its right "to speak truth to power". But he says "the systematic use of base and unlawful methods" and the hacking of computers as well as phones "on an industrial scale", and some investigators' "links to the criminal underworld", have been rejected by the British public.

He adds there is a "criminal-media nexus" and that News International has descended "from the gutter to the sewers".

Brown has said he is happy to appear in front of the inquiry.

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Tom Watson has raised a point of order to claim that the prime minister 'misled the house' over Andy Coulson.

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Miliband adds: "This is a victory for parliament... Today parliament has shown an ability to speak without fear or favour. To speak to our great traditions. To show that we can hold power to account and that nobody is above the law.

"Today Parliament has shown an ability to speak without fear or favour. To speak to our great traditions. To show that we can hold power to account, and that nobody is above the law."

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Ed Miliband says that it is "unusual to put it mildly for a motion to succeed before it has been debated". But this is a victory for "ordinary people". We need strong businesses in the UK, Miliband says. "But we need them to show responsibility."

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"

The prime minister's account of why he failed to act on the information we passed his office in February 2010 is highly misleading. Any ordinary person hearing of the unpublishable facts about a convicted News of the World private investigator facing conspiracy to murder charges would have recognised the need to investigate the claims. "

Andrew Sparrow has more

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@ paulwaugh : No.10, asked if PM had any prior knowledge of today's BSkyB U-turn: "No"

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"We're pleased, we're pleased that all three party leaders have taken the time to listen to us and specifically to be explicit about the fact that this had to be a full inquiry about the press and politicians and it has to start now."

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@ joeyjones : Gordon Brown will speak in hacking debate

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@ timfarron : good news about BSKYB but are News International even fit to own what they already do?

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@ ChiOnwurah : Great Bskyb have withdrawn their bid - but a) how long before they make it again & b) are they 39% fit & proper?

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"This is the decent and sensible thing to do. Now that the bid has been called off and a proper inquiry set up, we have a once in a generation chance to clean up the murky underworld of the corrupted relationship between the police, politics and the press."

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@ paulwaugh : Just told a Cabinet minister of the news re BSkyB: "Bloody hell" was his reaction.

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@ IvanLewis_MP : The will of the people and parliament has triumphed. Ed Milibands brave and bold leadership has helped to bring about the change we need.

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The decision shows the "power of the public", says Milly Dowler's family's solicitor in a press conference outside No 10.

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Says their solicitor Mark Harris.

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@ DonFosterMP : Right thing to do http://bit.ly/o37ngq - we still need OFCOM investigation to determine if News Corp are fit and proper to own other 39%

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@ nick_clegg : This is the decent and sensible thing to do. #BSkyB

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In a statement Simon Hughes said:

“My colleagues and I have been warning for 17 years of the dangers of the growing influence of the Murdochs in Britain.

“Three days ago the most popular Murdoch title disappeared - ruined by the excesses of some of its staff. Today the News International bid for BSkyB has been withdrawn.

“At last the sun is setting on Rupert Murdoch’s British empire.

“Journalism in the UK used to have the reputation as the best in the world. It is in the interests of all the public that this reputation is now restored.”

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But there will be no vote. They said: "Wording of motion cannot be changed - it's on the order paper. There will be no vote... [it's a] chance for parliament to have its say on events."

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@ GeorgeMonbiot : This is our Berlin Wall moment.

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