Socialist Worker

News International: Cameron's in crisis as scandal unravels

by Siân Ruddick
Issue No. 2262

The phone hacking scandal continues to engulf the political establishment.

Even David Cameron has admitted that it has shaken people’s confidence in British politics “to the core”.

He should know.

Culture select committee hearings and a parliamentary debate last week failed to draw a line under the furore.

And new revelations have deepened the crisis.

News Corporation and News International provided almost a quarter of all hospitality to the government’s senior political staff in its first seven months.

The revelations come from the register of special advisers’ gifts and hospitality.

Ex-News of the World editor Andy Coulson attended five of these functions in his role as Cameron’s director of communications.

The appointment of Coulson continues to give Cameron a headache.

It has emerged that Coulson wasn’t subject to the high security vetting that people working for the government at that level routinely undergo.

Such vetting could have exposed Coulson’s links to phone hacking at the paper.

In parliament, Cameron refused to name the company that had carried out low level clearance checks on Coulson.

But one vetting firm the Tories are well aware of is Control Risks Group.

The party paid £146 to the firm last year.

Cameron’s attempts to calm the crisis with a flurry of inquiries are coming unstuck.

He has appointed Lord Justice Leveson to oversee the main inquiry into the scandal.


Leveson attended two parties at the London home of Rupert Murdoch’s daughter, Elisabeth, and her husband Matthew Freud.

He also attended a dinner with Freud.

Meanwhile, the crisis is infecting the rest of the media.

BBC business editor Robert Peston is close friends with senior News Corp executive Will Lewis.

Labour MPs say Peston has distorted the BBC’s coverage of the hacking scandal.

Peston denies this.

News International is owned by the media baron Rupert Murdoch.

His son James is a key player in the scandal, as was former chief executive Rebekah Brooks until she resigned

earlier this month.

All three faced parliamentary committees last week. But their answers only raised more questions.

MPs have accused James Murdoch of misleading parliament—and Labour MP Tom Watson is referring evidence of this to Scotland Yard.

The problems for Murdoch junior centre around an email now known as the “for Neville” email.

It suggests that News of the World chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck had requested a transcript of a hacked voicemail in 2005.


On Tuesday, MPs asked James Murdoch whether he had been aware of that email. “No, I was not aware of that at the time,” he said.

Colin Myler, former editor of the News of the World, and solicitor Tom Crone, disagree.

They say James Murdoch was informed about the email during a discussion about making a payment to Gordon Taylor.

Taylor is the former chief executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association, whose phone was hacked.

In a statement released last Wednesday, the two former News of the World executives said that James Murdoch’s recollection was “mistaken”.

They went on, “In fact, we did inform him of the ‘for Neville’ email which had been produced to us by Gordon Taylor’s lawyers.”

The culture select committee was due to meet on Friday of this week to discuss the conflicting reports.

Meanwhile things may get more difficult for James Murdoch on Thursday of this week as he faces the BSkyB board.

Many are pushing for his resignation from the board after the Murdochs backed down on their takeover bid for BSkyB amid the hacking scandal.

For the Murdochs, the police and Cameron, the crisis just keeps growing.

For more on the crisis facing the Metropolitan Police, see

Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.