Daily View: What to expect from MPs' phone-hacking questions
News Corporation chiefs Rupert and James Murdoch and former executive Rebekah Brooks will be questioned by MPs later about the phone-hacking scandal. Commentators look ahead to what they expect.
Labour MP and self-titled "sole surviving admirer" of Rupert Murdoch, Austin Mitchell says in the Times he doubts much will be resolved from today's committee:
"The parliamentary select committees are now piling in, in the hope of emulating the grown-up committees of the US Senate. But they are more machines for making noise than for trenchant inquiry.
"So we are in for the great anti-climax, rather like Iraq after cheering crowds pulled down the statue of Saddam Hussein only to find that there were years of fighting, death and torture ahead. Instead of the prevailing mood of self-congratulation we should seize the moment to strengthen media regulation."
In the Independent Tom Sutcliffe is already wincing at the thought of MPs, unaccustomed to the limelight, ploughing in to ask questions:
"At least one man present deserves a bit of limelight - Tom Watson, who began worrying at a tiny exposed nub of bone years ago and eventually helped tug an entire skeleton into the light. Given his detailed knowledge of the affair - and the scorn poured on him at various times in the past few years - there would be a certain logic if his fellow committee members took a vow of silence and left it to him exclusively. But that sadly is very unlikely. The all-party composition of committees demands that Buggins gets a turn too - and Buggins, whoever he or she is, may find the temptation to showcase their own brilliance or moral probity irresistible. Or to subtly cut whoever preceded Buggins down in size a bit."
David Allen Green says in the New Statesman that although Rebekah Brooks will be protected by parliamentary privilege, we shouldn't be surprised if she decides to evade questioning:
"[I]t may not be in her [Rebekah Brooks] interests to say things which would otherwise be prejudicial to any defence which she may wish to use in the event of prosecution. She certainly may not want to incriminate herself. For, although there may be a formal barrier of privilege to prevent the use of those words as part of any prosecution or civil claim, any such words could well inform practical litigation decisions and she will be challenged to repeat those words outside of Parliament. Any attempt to rely on privilege will quickly become artificial. That is why we should not be surprised if, at least for many questions, Rebekah Brooks does not assist parliamentarians with their enquiries."
The Telegraph's Mary Riddell is sceptical that today's questioning will change the relationship between politicians and the press:
"But while Mr Miliband is correct to highlight expenses crooks, there is little mention in his thesis of the creeping virus, endemic in Labour as in Conservative circles, of complicity with the powerful. Today, Rupert Murdoch faces a tyrant's show trial. Any day now, he and his creatures may again be serving cocktails to their political lackeys."
In the Daily Mail Stephen Glover accuses politicians of being hypocritical:
"After the Press and the police, who will be next? Not the politicians, we may be sure, who will enjoy themselves today in trying to eviscerate Rupert and James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks in the House of Commons. Yet it is the politicians, or at any rate the leading ones, who chose to suck up to Rupert Murdoch in the past, and gave him his power."