On Monday 11th July 2011, the day after the News of the World published its final issue, Tony Blair spoke to Rebekah Brooks in what Brooks says was an hour-long phone call, and Brooks summarised the phonecall in an email to James Murdoch:
“1. Form an independent unit that has an outside junior counsel, Ken Macdonald, a great and good type, a serious forensic criminal barrister, internal counsel, proper fact checkers etc in it. Get them to investigate me and others and publish a Hutton style report,”
“2. Publish part one of the report at same time as the police closes its inquiry and clear you and accept short comings and new solutions and process and part two when any trials are over.
Filed under Corruption, War
“Protection of Parliamentary privileges, election of Presiding Officer, etc”
In April 2011, Ryan Giggs’s lawyers managed to convince a judge that Giggs’s girlfriend had had an affair with him for six months with intention of blackmailing him, and so ought not to be allowed to name Ryan Giggs in any interview, nor ought the UK media to be allowed to publish this, and the judge granted a superinjunction, which of course attracted the intention among the vast majority who didn’t care who Giggs was having an affair with. On 22nd May the Sunday Herald took advantage of its ambiguous position as a Scottish newspaper to identify Giggs to anyone who’d been following the story… but on 23rd May he was named in the House of Commons under Parliamentary privilege by John Hemming. The woman who’d been falsely accused of blackmail went on to clear her name in court, and the judge then suggested with remarkable meiosis that “There is no longer any point in maintaining the anonymity” though the gagging order wasn’t dropped until February this year.
Because of this incident, and because of the other more justly famous incident in the precursor to Leveson, when in November 2011 Tom Watson told James Murdoch that “You must be the first mafia boss in history who didn’t know he was running a criminal enterprise” probably what most people know about “Parliamentary privilege” is that an MP speaking in the House of Commons can say literally anything and cannot be prosecuted for defamation or for breaking a superinjunction.
At the beginning of December 2010, Vince Cable was the Minister responsible for the BSkyB decision, and he wasn’t minded to give it to Murdoch.
By 20th December 2010, a sting operation run by the Telegraph had ensured that Cable wasn’t the quasi-judicial decider on BSkyB any more – Jeremy Hunt was.
David Cameron, George Osborne, and James Murdoch all knew before 20th December that Vince Cable didn’t favour the NewsCorps bid for BSkyB and James Hunt did.
We know now, after this morning’s evidence at Leveson Continue reading
Cast your mind back to the palmy early months of coalition government, back when Andy Coulson was Director of Communications for the government at 10 Downing Street, on £140,000 a year, and Rebekah and Dave could go hacking together without a care in the world.
In mid-June reports confirmed that News Corporation, owned by Rupert Murdoch, was holding talks with BSkyB shareholders with a view to acquire the remaining 61 percent of BSkyB.
By October, a coalition of media organisations including the Daily Mail, the Telegraph, the the Guardian, the BBC, and Channel 4, were pushing for government intervention. Vince Cable, then Business Secretary, would have got a letter from this coalition making the case that a merger of News Corps, the UK’s largest newspaper group, and BSkyB, the UK’s biggest subscription television service “could have serious and far-reaching consequences for media plurality”.