Last week we remembered the 52 victims of the 7 July bombings and their bereaved families. That anyone could have tried to exploit the raw grief of those families to sell newspapers shows exactly why tackling the phone hacking issue is so important.
Led by our leader Ed Miliband, we called for a public inquiry, which must be led by a judge. I welcome the Government’s swift change of mind since the Deputy Prime Minister rejected an inquiry on Tuesday. It needs to be a full inquiry to cover the culture and practices that led to what happened, the nature of regulation, and the relationship between the police and the media.
The Prevention of Corruption Act 1906 makes it an offence for anyone to pay money to a police officer or for any officer to receive it. We need assurances now that whatever the current investigation reveals, including on the allegation that the Prime Minister’s former director of communications sanctioned payments to police officers while he was at the News of the World, that this practice is no longer happening anywhere.
We on the Labour benches have consistently said that the BSkyB bid should be referred to the Competition Commission and not dealt with in the way the Culture Secretary has done. The Prime Minister must realise that the public will react with disbelief if next week the decision is taken to go ahead with this deal at a time when News International is subject to a major criminal investigation
It would be naive to think that they closed down the News of the World out of shame, rather than as a hard-headed commercial decision. But it does prove that concerted public outcry can force change.