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Wednesday 14 December 2011

Verity Murphy | 14:05 UK time, Wednesday, 14 December 2011

After months of phone hacking revelations there are still many questions which remain unanswered such as who deleted murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler's voicemails, who at the News of the World was involved in hacking, how much did James Murdoch know and were other newspapers also engaged in such practices?

Tonight Richard Watson, who has reported on this story throughout the year, reflects on what we have learned so far. We talk to key players at the heart of the story and have the results of our exclusive poll looking at the effect the scandal has had on public attitudes.

Plus David Grossman reports on the first PMQs since David Cameron used Britain's EU veto and how the opposition have responded.

And as the last US troops prepare to leave Iraq Mark Urban considers whether the mission can be called a success and in the studio we discuss its implications for future US foreign policy.


  • Comment number 1.

    Given Cameron's decisions to bring phone-hacking boss Andy Coulson into 10 Downing St and now the botch-up he's made on the EU treaty veto....surely NN should be focussing on DC's poor lack of judgement. He was even cosying up to Murdoch agent Rebecca Wade-Brooks during his family Xmas vacation (at home) not so long ago.

    The Murdoch agents had not only infiltrated No 10 but that they were also making in-roads into Scotland Yard should have had alarm bells ringing. As bad as the Milly Dowler phone hacking intrusion was (it was the catalyst for the downfall of the NotW). Surely the focus should be drawn to the influence the Murdochs, via NI, were exerting on British public life pruely for their own libertarian anarchistic business pushing purposes.

    The Leveson (note the name) Inquiry is just pantomime for the masses. Nothing will come of it as it is purely for distractionary purposes.

  • Comment number 2.


    He still stands indicted but un-confronted over the Liar Flyer.

    See below for new analysis:

    MAY 2010 – NEWBURY.








    “A PERSONAL MESSAGE FROM DAVID CAMERON” endorses the above assertions AND IS SIGNED.

    UNCONTROLLABLE VARIABLES (NB: Pertaining at the time the Liar Flyer was issued.)

    Vote share of each party, at close of poll.

    Freedom to deal, between party leaders.

    Growing Labour MP disaffection, regarding Gordon Brown as their leader. Not result-contingent.

    Personal choices open to Gordon Brown, as a free agent.

    Length of any future Parliament (pre Coalition fixed-term).

    Nicholas Clegg’s pledge to do no deal with Gordon Brown.


    In some constituencies which received the Liar Flyer, the Conservative WAS DEFEATED.

    The Election resulted in a HUNG PARLIAMENT.

    GORDON BROWN DID NOT RETURN AS LEADER – indeed, he resigned and withdrew.


    The distributor of the Liar Flyer (named thereupon) was RICHARD BENYON.

    PERSONAL ADVANTAGE, from any increase in the Conservative vote, accrued to RICHARD BENYON.


    THIS I

  • Comment number 3.

    #2 the absolute end


  • Comment number 4.

    So many questions, but so many not asked ones, too.

    '...reports on the first PMQs since David Cameron used Britain's EU veto and how the opposition have responded.

    Can't wait, as what I have read so far vs. what I saw and heard seem to be guided by a ruthless absence of 'opinion' that I must say was refreshing.

  • Comment number 5.


    War is organised, mechanised, destructive combat. It is a devilish pact between the dumb Ape and the clever cerebrum. It is abject negation of wisdom.

    Success? Need you even ask Mr Urban?

  • Comment number 6.


    how many migrants came this year? they get jobs. why?

  • Comment number 7.




  • Comment number 8.

    Surely the logic of the LibDems staying in the coalition and the curiously supine attitude of Nick Clegg must be the right issue to consider?

    1. Clegg's volt face on his manifesto commitments for everything from tuition fees to the austerity strategy must raise fundamental questions about just what the electorate can expect to get when they vote LibDem - vote centre/left, but actually get hard/right?

    2. The Deficit Reduction Programme was trumpeted as being at the core of the Coalition's programme for government and is now clearly failing - badly - and as unemployment takes off, the deficit goes up and the private sector is failing to generate hardly any new jobs at all, there is no hope left that the LibDems could claim credit for sorting out the economy and public finances by the next election & appear to have given up all hope of turning the corner.

    3. The old divisions within the Tory Party on Europe are now opened up wider than ever - there is clearly a large eurosceptic majority - but also a euroseptic (out @ any price now!) group that it seems Cameron has to cowtow to - given that it is probably make or break time for the Euro, surely Clegg's involvement is now irrelevant, as Cameron's only worry is keeping his right wing at bay, avoiding a referendum at all costs and keeping the Uk in the EU.

    4. Cameron appears to be blind to the risks north of the border - he's driving the Scots into the arms of Alex Salmond & the SNP - there will be hell to pay if there is a YES to independence - in the rump of the UK the Tories will have an inbuilt majority - so they can simply ignore the LibDems if the scots leave. taking many Labour seats @ Westminster with them.

    5. On current polling the LibDems face armageddon at the next election. There seems to be nothing Clegg can do about it because he's locked into the coalition - the economy looks to be on the downward slide and could fall into a deep longlasting depression next year.


    I find it hard to believe he thinks things will turnaround and that the electorate will support someone who has gone back on so many promises and delivered economic misery - and promises even more misery to come - I also think there are few things left for him to do within the coalition given the No to AV so he has got no wriggle room at all, as the recent Veto events showed - Clegg is trapped between a rock and a hard place - he has to support his coalition partners and limit his criticism to mild grumbling.

  • Comment number 9.


    Surely there must be a deeper logic to his "do nothing" position?

    I suggest there is growing evidence that Clegg plans to cross the floor and join the Tories with his fellow Orange Book libertarians & ditch the LibDem party as a lost cause.

    The logic is inescapable - Clegg does nothing, fails to distance himself or his party from the Tories until the howling of LibDem grandees gets deafening. This is not the behaviour of a senior politician plotting and planning for the next election to position his party to gain the maximum advantage - it's the mindest of a fifth columnist traitor smiling sweetly and avoiding as much attention as possible, whilst awaiting the invasion so he can be set up in power by his secret friends, the enemy.

    This would suite Cameron right down to the ground - he could bolt on the right of the LibDems whilst ditching his Euroseptic wing. Without the scottish Labour MPs and with the remains of the LibDems ripped asunder, he could be pretty sure of winning the rump UK election without any serious challenge from Labour or UKIP, even if the economy was in a flat tailspin.

    This would give him a mandate to make further massive cuts in public spending and services and in effect transform the UK into the 53rd state of the USA in terms of welfare policy, private sector deregulation and end public provision of services with his "big Society" model of volunteers replacing public employees and local government.

  • Comment number 10.


    Politicians do not let shared contempt and loathing get in the way of a mutually advantageous stitch-up. Nick will assist Dave towards an outright win in 2015 and Dave will see Nick elevated in some wise, and returned to the EU trough.

    It is all the more important that I stick the Liar Flyer to Dave in the intervening years. Anyone thinking that is a vainglorious boast - read #2, line by line.


  • Comment number 11.

    Phone hacking - What is being over-looked here?

    Most if not all phone hacking requires the vital initial access to be set up by ???? as get authorisation from telecoms company under their own 'legal powers'

    Yes - the Police!

    Which PM was responsible for 'turning a ....' never mind ... 'looking the other way' in terms of doing something about the initial phone hacking evidence?

    Was it David Cameron .... ???


    So which Labour wastrel was it then? - Was it Blair or Brown? or was it just the both of them?

    The crucial bit about the phone hacking is that without them bent coppers setting it up - we would never have had any phone hacking!

    Without Labour wastrel PM's - ignoring the evidence as including reports and complaint from the Information Commissioner - the hacking would have been stopped & would not have run on & on for several years?

    But what is this Leveson Inquiry going to tell us - How will it establish cause & apportion blame & when will Labour wastrels be called in to give evidence?

  • Comment number 12.

    When Clegg was comparing Britain to a 'pymgy' - How 'low' could he get?

  • Comment number 13.

    12. At 20:47 14th Dec 2011, You wrote:

    When Clegg was comparing Britain to a 'pygmy' - How 'low' could he get?
    (sorry 'critical typo' in previous)

  • Comment number 14.

    Richard @8, 9

    It's all happened before hasn't it - in similar circumstances after the 1929 great crash.

    History will repeat itself - to a point anyway: The Libs will split, and the right will subsume itself into the/a Tory Party, depending upon whether that splits over Europe. Michael Heseltine first stood for Westminster as a "National Liberal". Mrs T's minister John Nott was actually elected as one in 1966.

    @12 Aaaargh! :-)

  • Comment number 15.

    US drones shot down and mysterious explosions in Iran

    Top Iran official: We may move nuclear facilities to 'safer' locations

    "On Sunday, at least seven people were killed in an explosion at a steel mill in the Iranian city of Yazd. Foreign nationals, possibly North Korean nuclear arms experts, are believed to be among the dead.

    The explosion follows two blasts that occurred in Iran in recent weeks at sites linked to Tehran's nuclear program."

  • Comment number 16.


    What a terminal performance from Jeremy tonight. Eyebrows, voice and the game - all UP! How ironic that tabloid journalism was under attack as Jeremy morphed into TABLOID TV!

    What, I wonder, did his handler think of his offering?

    Please tell me Johnnie Foreigner can't see out disgrace. The thought of Barroso sniggering is too much.

  • Comment number 17.


    He repeated the phrase, driving home the truth of Prime Ministers Questions: ANSWERS DO NOT NORMALLY FEATURE.

    Is it possible that Dave's arrogance got the better of him?


  • Comment number 18.

    Take a look at the perps from this tragic and horrible story. The libs are already giving excuses for the scum.

  • Comment number 19.

    How my heart went out to the ex-News of the World representative tonight, his former paper having to suffer outrageous public disapprobation just because it did underhand and criminal things to get stories in the name of a free press. Society is the poorer for its passing. But we know all that.

    More worryingly was Lord Hunt, newly appointed Chairman of the PCC. He came across as such a nice, reasonable, rollover 'be fair to everyone' chappie. The pack will eat him in seconds.

    When will they learn that nice people don't have much sway over not nice people. You'd think politicians would know that. Then again, perhaps that's why he was appointed.

  • Comment number 20.

    The corporate newspapers are the elite’s enforcers, misrepresenting the sources of oppression.

    The men who own the corporate press are fighting a class war, seeking, even now, to defend the 1% to which they belong against its challengers. But, because they control much of the conversation, we seldom see it in these terms. Our press reframes the major issues so effectively that it often recruits its readers to mobilise against their own interests….
    ….Though benefit fraud deprives the Exchequer of £1.1bn a year while tax avoidance and evasion deprive it of between £40bn and £120bn, the tabloids relentlessly pursue the petty crooks, while leaving the capos alone.

  • Comment number 21.


    Thanks Sasha - great insight - didn't know about Knott's liberal skeleton in the closet!

    The i newspaper ran a great price yesterday deconstructing Clegg's claim to the Achilles of the LibDems - ended up saying he's actually the wooden horse in the Trojan epic - nice symbolism!

    I still can't get over the way Clegg's Orange Book Cabal managed to effectively stage a coup d'etat through the mechanism of the coalition agreement - a tiny minority whose political agenda of neoclassical ideology which was totally rejected by their own party -then managed to align themselves with fellow travellers in the tory party which had just failed to win a mandate for their programme and put the two together to write the coalition agreement and take over the government - when two thirds of voters had voted for manifestoes opposed to deep and rapid spending cuts & tax hikes.

    Now that this strategy has been revealed to be entirely self-defeating, Clegg seems to have floated off into a reverie - his neoclassical ideology has been tested to destruction and it's falling to pieces before his eyes - it's rather like watching a kid finding out that Father Christmas was a put up job all along - but not quite being able to believe that cherished magic was a con trick he'd fallen for year after year.

    The question is now that there appears to be no hope of the LibDems going into the election with a following wind of the economy improving, why isn't Clegg galvanised to DO SOMETHING?

    I suppose the answer is he is trapped by his ideology and cannot bring himself to ditch the failed policies -so is in rabbit-in-headlights mode.

    However this seems a little too simple to me - hence my "defection" thesis - Clegg now knows that the tories plan to prosecute class war by cutting the living standards of the majority to buttress that of the rich minority and pay off the national debts to keep the City alive when in reality it's populated by zombie banks & hedge funds - there is no possibility of "sharing the burden" or "fairness" anymore - the austerity programme has to slice deep into ordinary peoples' incomes and Clegg knows he has to decide which side he's on - there is no middle way left - so the Tory Party will have to be the instrument to carry out this bloodbath.

  • Comment number 22.

    Just read this story to find out where public services here are headed for...

  • Comment number 23.

    canada leave kyoto.

    maybe piers has been banned by the bbc? which is why we never see him on it. even as 'balance' against the deluge of co2 nonsense.

    piers comments.

  • Comment number 24.

  • Comment number 25.


    That is the Westminster Malaise, restassured. Kev's #18 laments the 'evil that men do' also.

    While we vote for PRE-SELECTED ‘rosettes’, the Westminster Creatures who lurk behind them, will distil an ever more toxic essence, and it will 'trickle down' into society; bogus happiness and wellbeing notwithstanding.


  • Comment number 26.

    '7. At 18:25 14th Dec 2011, Murray '

    Not knowing, and why (especially when it comes to who chooses what to share or not), or what 'we' have 'learned' so far, seems germane on this thread... print or broadcast media monopoly-wise.

    As for the NoTW, no great loss as far as I am concerned, because it was not a publication I was much interested in, and what it did get up to was not to my taste when highlighted. Thereafter, the market, and the power of its forces intervened. But there remains an aspect in the manner of this that intrigues still.

    So I maintain an interest in the rest of media as a whole (print and broadcast), who seem for some reason rather spotlighted OR ignored by each other down fairly partisan lines. I also have a major interest in what was done, but also what was left out, especially when it came to checking stories, and stories about stories.

    I am sure this was all covered in last night's analysis thoroughly, but in case a few aspects were missed or accidently left out that are not covered adequately by Guardian URLs alone:
    Guardian faces Fleet Street backlash over changing story on Milly Dowler message deletions

    Some interesting comments, and even input from a main protagonist, whose responses seem oddly familiar to other editorial justifications around and about, either denying any critique is valid because they say so, or resorting to the 'you're all just Daily Mail readers' defence.

    What I derive is no medium is to be trusted, and hence any medium that relies to an unusual extent on just one, above all, must equally be suspect. The 'quality' (in integrity terms) trumps 'quantity' (in terms of public representation by ABC ratings) justification often cited, often on a thin one degree of shared view separation basis, is now in tatters.

    On the matter of the best opposition to help this country grow stronger, while one is sure the Conservative aspect of the coalition doubtless wishes he lives long and prospers further (or gets replaced by Mr. Balls), I cam unsure Mr. Miliband serves much value save ensuring the most bad stays away from making things even worse.

    Hence the muted, balanced lack of analysis and opinion from the usual suspects, who usually are not so shy on hyperbole when moved, is to be welcomed. However I doubt it will last long if any they have cause to see those they are more comfortable 'analysing to oblivion' perform less than adequately by their unique measures.

    Thank heavens for the internet. In amongst it all, I can usually acquire some semblance of an objective assessment of what has happened and what it may mean. For free. Now that... is unique.

  • Comment number 27.

    An interesting back story I was not aware of too. Noting 'editted transcript' and all that entails.

    It would appear Mr. Paxman was not minded to accept much from the Guardian spokesperson at face value, which is to be applauded.

    Shame most did before. And many still do.

    Whilst placing its objectivity off to one side, I used not to doubt its overall commitment to professional integrity. It now joins the rest. Along with all broadcasters, who oddly seem to feel that by using 'the press' as a term, all non-print media are absolved from 'questions being asked'. Especially when it comes to their selections of what questions.

  • Comment number 28.

    Media Enquiry

    So there is no evidence that a PI commissioned by the NOW deleted a murdered teenagers voice messages which give false hope to the victims loved ones ?
    Well I never.
    I hope the enquiry finds out what really happened, for the familys sake.
    Still at lest Murdock did not get Sky ?

    Labours Poll Ratings
    We'll they had their second biggest election defeat only 18 months ago, you cant expect them to be fully recovered and be able to make a decision yet.
    Yet Labour expect the coalition to have turned around the biggest debt crash since the 30's , reduced their legacy of NEETS and unemployment , a chronic shortage of housing, a energy crisis, immigration , daft EU obligations and god knows what else, all in the same time frame.
    Amazing !
    Susan , please please please ask CERN to prioritize dark matter research , the quicker a dark matter propulsion system can be invented the quicker I can leave this small rock and not have to despair at these politicians who want to govern me because they feel “Its the right thing to do.”.


    Glad its over.
    I hope the policy mistakes, which there were , are now well understood.

  • Comment number 29.

    Last night's debate between Guardian & NOTW journalists interesting - Of course?

    What do we get from it - How can any of them be trusted 1cm further than a 'hip throw'?

  • Comment number 30.

    And as the last US troops prepare to leave Iraq Mark Urban considers whether the mission can be called a success and in the studio we discuss its implications for future US foreign policy.


    Perhaps the 'mission' hasn't even got started properly - and that was just 'Phase1'?

  • Comment number 31.

    Phone hacking? There wouldn't be any without the 'bent coppers' enabling it & setting it up - as telecoms companies are extremely reluctant to allow the requisite 'access'?

    Will the Leveson inquiry deal with this issue properly?

  • Comment number 32.

    I am not surprised that US is withdrawing troops from Iraq now. They have basically achieved their strategic objectives in the Middle East. Most of the regional leaders who could have caused them trouble are either dead or isolated (e.g. Saddam Hussein, Bin Laden, Gaddafi, and I think Syria will follow soon). Furthermore, the war in Afghanistan has more or less been won - when is the last time we heard Mark Urban reporting on a large casualty inflicted on the US military by the Taliban?

    The last decade has been themed on Middle East and the war on terror. It’s becoming more and more apparent that the US foreign policy will be centred on East Asia over the next decade, in which US actively takes on China in the fight to preserve its status as the world’s only super power. I am uneasy towards the ways United States is making China look increasingly isolated in the region (e.g. leaving China out of the APEC trade bloc, riling up its neighbouring countries engaged in territorial disputes with China on ‘friendly’ diplomatic visits). Who says power struggle requires missiles and bombs? To the west wing elites, there is always financial attack and sun tzu.

  • Comment number 33.

    Taliban have it won as they will be in Kabul in two years if they aren't there already or their proxy's are, the cost to America has been immense and is rising by the million by the day so no, they have lost the West always does when it comes to the middle east and eventually they will lose their biggest puppet Israel because they want the lot and there is only so much to go round....


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