As it happened: Phone-hacking row

Key points

  • Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has referred Rupert Murdoch's bid to take full control of BSkyB to the Competition Commission
  • The Sunday Times is alleged to have targeted the personal information former Prime Minister Gordon Brown
  • Relatives of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler say News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks should resign
  • Labour leader Ed Miliband calls on Rupert Murdoch to drop his bid for BSkyB altogether

    Welcome to our live page. We'll be keeping you up to date with all the latest developments in the phone hacking scandal over the coming hours.


    First, a quick recap on what's going on. The News of the World phone hacking scandal has been brought back into the spotlight after allegations the newspaper unlawfully accessed the voicemail messages of victims of crime, families of soldiers killed on duty, and possibly even families of the 7 July bombing victims.


    Today the parents of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler have been meeting Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to discuss claims messages left on Milly's phone were deleted while she was missing.


    We've also heard that Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has written to Ofcom and the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to seek fresh advice from regulators on News Corporation's takeover bid for BSkyB.


    The Dowler family's lawyer Mark Lewis tells the BBC their meeting with Nick Clegg was "very constructive" and the deputy prime minister seemed to have listened and been fully engaged in what they were saying.


    Mr Lewis went on to say the family believes News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks should resign.


    The Dowler family's lawyer says they have received no apology from Rebekah Brooks or Rupert Murdoch.


    Speaking after the meeting, former Metropolitan Police officer Brian Paddick says there are "serious concerns" about the relationship between the media and the police. He says a public inquiry is the only way to establish the truth.

    1037: Breaking News

    Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg calls on Rupert Murdoch to reconsider his bid for BSkyB.


    In his letter to the media regulator, Ofcom, and the OFT, Mr Hunt writes: "I would be grateful if you could indicate whether this development (and/or the events surrounding it) gives you any additional concerns in respect of plurality over and above those raised in your initial report to me on this matter received on 31 December 2010."


    Mr Hunt asks if last week's events caused the regulators to reconsider previous advice about the "credibility, sustainability or practicalities of the undertakings offered by News Corporation".


    Mr Hunt also tells the BBC the two inquiries announced by Prime Minister David Cameron are the "right basis for change".


    Quick recap on the inquiries into the scandal. The first will be a judge-led probe into the activities of the NoW and other papers, and the failure of the original police investigation from 2005 into phone-hacking and the second inquiry will examine the ethics and culture of the media.


    Nick Clegg says he would say to Rupert Murdoch: "Look how people feel about this, look how the country has reacted with revulsion to the revelations, so do the decent and sensible thing and reconsider, think again, about your bid for BSkyB."


    News Corp chairman and chief executive Rupert Murdoch arrives back at his London home this morning. Mr Murdoch flew in on Sunday to personally handle his organisation's response to the phone-hacking crisis.

    News Corp chief Rupert Murdoch leaves his London home on July 11, 2011

    BSkyB's share price has fallen again and is now down 17% since last week.


    Bit more from lawyer Mark Lewis, who speaks on behalf of the Dowler family.

    Of Rebekah Brooks, he says: "They don't see why she should stay in the job. They see this as something that went right to the top.

    "She was editor of the News of the World at the time that Milly was taken in 2002. She should take editorial responsibility."


    Labour leader Ed Miliband says the government is "still dragging its feet" on the phone-hacking scandal.


    Mr Miliband says the judge-led inquiry needs be set up immediately, otherwise there is a risk evidence will be destroyed.

    1106: Sean Allan in Aberdeenshire

    emails: The government is dragging its heels with this and no doubt it's because they are involved in some way. It would appear to me that all media will have some involvement of some kind. You just can't trust anyone.


    Mr Miliband says it is also important that David Cameron comes clean on the "increasing number of questions" on his appointment of Andy Coulson.

    1113: Breaking News

    BBC business editor Robert Peston says the e-mails passed to the police on 20 June seem to suggest the News of the World was buying the private contact details of the royal family from a royal protection officer.

    1113: Tom in the UK

    tweets: So when are they going to look at the other newspapers? Why is the BSkyB takeover a problem? I just dont get it - all the usual bias nonsense.

    1113: Robert Peston Business editor, BBC News

    Our correspondent says many people will find this development "profoundly shocking".


    Mark Day in The Australian newspaper writes: "Murdoch has many enemies and the pack now senses his vulnerability and is turning on him. Expect a feeding frenzy of unprecedented fury."


    Mr Miliband says David Cameron's account of events "doesn't add up".


    Mr Miliband says there is a "mountain of evidence" that News of the World gave assurances about phone-hacking that were not correct. He says he won't rest until the BSkyB deal is put on hold pending the outcome of criminal investigations.


    Mr Miliband says the last Labour government should have acted more speedily on the information in the police commissioner's report.

    He says Gordon Brown did think about a judge-led inquiry and it needs to be established why that didn't transpire.

    1122: Andy Richmond in Aberystwyth

    emails: If News Corporation is not considered fit to take over BSkyB, how can they be considered fit to hold their existing media franchises?

    1124: Darren Nesbitt in Adelaide, Australia

    emails: News International has reached new unknown distasteful lows - dancing with and manipulating politicians while secretly stripping individuals' dignity and privacy to the point of revulsion.


    Bit more on why Mr Hunt says he has written a letter to Ofcom and the Office of Fair Trading, Mr Hunt says the hacking allegations were "stomach-churning" and had "totally shaken" people's trust in British journalism.

    1127: B Walker in the UK

    emails: At last Nick Clegg has said what everyone else seems to have been avoiding. This bid should not go ahead regardless of inquiry results, investigations and all the rest of it. Hiding behind the legal process will not wash, even if the takeover process fulfils every legal obligation on the planet. The question of the morality of such a takeover should be paramount.


    Labour leader Ed Miliband says if he was to speak to Rupert Murdoch, the first thing he would tell him would be to drop the bid for BSkyB because "the cloud of accusations make it completely untenable for the bid to go ahead".


    Secondly, Mr Miliband says, he would tell Mr Murdoch to make people like Rebekah Brooks take responsibility and resign.


    The BBC understands Rebekah Brooks could be questioned by police as a witness, rather than a suspect. Mrs Brooks has denied having had any knowledge of hacking while she was News of the World editor from 2000 to 2003.

    Rebekah Brooks
    1138: Robin Brant Political correspondent

    If the claims about a royal protection officer leaking information are true there will be more questions about what senior officers, who were investigating the Prince William hacking, may have known.

    Sue Akers - the Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner leading Operation Weeting - is due before the home affairs select committee tomorrow.


    Mr Miliband says the latest allegations cast a "further cloud" over the bid for BSkyB, which he says should be shelved because it is "more and more untenable".


    Irfan Husain in Pakistan's Karachi-based Dawn newspaper writes: "For a long time, Rupert Murdoch has been widely viewed by journalists as a giant squid sitting on the face of the media, starving it of oxygen."


    Want a bit more detail on the key questions in the phone hacking scandal? Our handy Q&A has all the answers.


    For more in-depth analysis read the BBC business editor Robert Peston's view on why Murdoch faces a new obstacle to the Sky takeover and BBC political editor Nick Robinson's blog on Jeremy Hunt's letter.


    For more on Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg urging Rupert Murdoch to reconsider his BSkyB bid watch our interview with Mr Clegg.


    The mother and sister of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler meet with Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to discuss allegations her voicemail messages were hacked and deleted.

    Milly Dowler's mother Sally, her sister Gemma and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg
    1156: D Young in Scotland

    texts: Listening to all these revelations about phone hacking and the link between the police, the government and the press show the power these bodies have to control the way we live our lives and there is not much the common man can do about it. It is all about power and money. When you have both you can control most things. That's the way most people see it and it's been going on for years. As this will not change, the future looks bleak.

    1211: John Saleh Price in Wales

    blogs: I disagree with both the government and their opposition in regards to the proposed ownership of BSkyB. They should neither contemplate nor delay any decision. They should block the whole move altogether. If they say to us they disapprove of Murdoch's actions constantly, then they should do everything to get him out of any dealings with the British media.

    1211: Ross Hawkins Political correspondent, BBC News

    The Prime Minister's spokesman says David Cameron will not be providing a "running commentary" on the BSkyB bid.

    But he adds: "There is a lot of public interest in this issue. We would expect politicians including ministers to be talking about it at the present time."

    He emphasises the distinction between the PM and Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt who must act in a quasi-judicial role in deciding on BSkyB.

    1212: Ross Hawkins Political correspondent, BBC News

    The PM's spokesman says Mr Cameron was not provided with any of the advice that Mr Hunt has received on the deal.

    Earlier statements by Mr Hunt were made without going through Downing St and the PM heard about one decision from the department on BSkyB on the radio, he says.

    1213: Ross Hawkins Political correspondent, BBC News

    Asked about Nick Clegg's comments on BSkyB, the spokesman said: "The Prime Minister's been very clear not to involve himself in this decision."

    Asked then why Mr Clegg had made his statement, the spokesman said the deputy prime minister was expressing a view and was entitled to do that.


    Liberal Democrat party president Tim Farron indicates the party's MPs could back a Labour motion in the Commons criticising Mr Murdoch's BSkyB takeover bid.

    "I cannot see how, if a legally worded motion comes to the House opposing a further Murdoch takeover of BSkyB, I cannot see how Liberal Democrats would vote against that," he tells the BBC Radio 4's Today programme.


    The chairman of the media select committee, Tory MP John Whittingdale, urges MPs to send a "strong message" to Mr Murdoch on Wednesday that the BSkyB takeover bid needs to be put on hold in the present "poisonous atmosphere".

    Things have changed "beyond recognition" since it emerged that Milly Dowler's phone messages were accessed, he says.

    But he stresses the government is obliged to abide by legal process in relation to the takeover, regardless of the outcome of the Commons vote.


    Asked if he thinks Mr Murdoch should apologise personally for the phone hacking revelations, Mr Whittingdale says: "Yes, I do. Rupert Murdoch is the face of News Corporation... as the head of the company he should apologise."

    1223: Laura Kuenssberg Chief political correspondent, BBC News channel

    Rupert Murdoch is determined to get the BSkyB deal, but the pressure to halt this bid, to get it delayed and potentially taken off the table, is building by the hour as the twists and turns in the story continue.

    1228: via Facebook Nick Martin

    comments: Hugh Grant was right on Question Time. There needs to be more effective control over the tabloid press, otherwise they can manipulate politicians by threatening smear campaigns with stuff gleaned by phone hacking.

    1230: Sami Doyle in London

    emails: This bid should not happen, or at least until News Corp can be seen to act within the rules of the game. There should not even be a debate on the matter. It will take pressure off the police enquiry and come out with a more honest result.


    Business Secretary Vince Cable says if there is a Commons vote on the BSkyB bid, he will be able to vote as he wishes because his party has not established a "special relationship" with Rupert Murdoch and his News Corporation.

    "I think in general it is true the Liberal Democrats are the one of the major parties which has never been compromised in its dealings with this company, so we will be voting without fear or favour," he says.


    Quick update on the latest developments. The BBC understands that the News of the World paid a royal protection officer for information about the royal family, their friends and connections.

    The latest revelation comes as Labour leader Ed Miliband calls for Rupert Murdoch's proposed takeover of BSkyB to be shelved pending the outcome of criminal investigations.


    Meanwhile, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has written to the media regulator, Ofcom, for fresh advice on the takeover. Mr Hunt has asked whether the bid should be referred to the Competition Commission in the light of the phone hacking allegations.


    And this morning, the family of the murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler met Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to discuss concerns that her phone may have been hacked by the News of the World. The Dowler family have also called on Rebekah Brooks to resign as chief executive of News International.


    Parliamentary authorities say Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt will give a statement to the Commons on phone hacking and the media this afternoon.


    For more on the alleged payments to a royal protection officer, our business editor Robert Peston has the latest.

    1256: Micky Mullins

    writes on our BBC News Facebook wall: The dinosaur corporate media is dying.


    Meanwhile, BSkyB shares fall in London amid fresh doubts over whether News Corporation will be allowed to take over the company.

    The shares fell by as much as 7% before recovering slightly - taking BSkyB shares to below the 700 pence level that News Corp offered for them in June 2010.


    Quick update on when we are expecting that statement in the House of Commons from Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt on phone hacking and the media. We hear it will be at about 1630.


    Members of the "Hacked Off" campaign speak to the media outside after a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

    Professor Brian Cathcart, Director of the Media Standards Trust Martin Moore, Evan Harris, Solicitor Mark Lewis and Former Metropolitan Police Commander Brian Paddick
    1309: Carole Walker Pollitical correspondent, BBC News

    Shadow culture secretary Ivan Lewis has written to the Cabinet Secretary Gus O'Donnell asking further questions about Andy Coulson's appointment.

    Mr Lewis says the process through which Mr Coulson was appointed to No 10 is handled by civil servants and, "in order to have confidence in that process in the future, needs to be transparent".

    His questions include: "Did the Prime Minister or any of his advisers tell you or other civil servants about any warnings they had received about Mr Coulson's prior conduct?"


    BBC business editor Robert Peston says the contact details allegedly requested of the royal protection officer were about the royal family "at the highest level".

    He says he understands the Queen's security may have been put at risk.

    Our correspondent says the emails were uncovered in 2007 and the question is why weren't they passed on to police until this year.

    1309: Nik Morris

    emails: In Europe we have over the last thirty years created a political elite and a media elite and now the perils and foolishness of this is being highlighted.


    Liberal Democrat MP Don Foster says his party is likely to vote with Labour to prevent News Corporation's BSkyB takeover bid going ahead before all the phone-hacking inquiries have concluded.

    "If we can do it legally, if the motion is one that delivers what we want and provides a legal route of doing it. That's likely to be and I haven't talked to my Parliamentary colleagues yet - we've got to have those discussions.


    The Guardian reports that unofficial sales figures indicate the final edition of the News of the World sold 4.5 million copies - nearly two million more than usual.


    Ed Miliband's office confirms that he will respond to the statement in the Commons this afternoon by the Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

    Mr Miliband's office says his move is "unprecedented". It is usual practice for a Cabinet minister's opposite number in the opposition to respond to a statement.

    A spokesman for Mr Miliband said: "We're disappointed that the prime minister won't be coming to the House of Commons. Jeremy Hunt doesn't have responsibility for the terms of the judge-led inquiry, nor the hiring of Andy Coulson."

    1333: Guy in Gloucester

    texts: Cameron may be trying to distance himself from the bid process, but his silence on this whole issue is seriously damaging his credibility. He is appearing reactive and not proactive, and seems oblivious to the catastrophic error of judgement in appointing Andy Coulson. At the moment he is sinking as fast as Murdoch.


    Ian Verrender in the Sydney Morning Herald: "Even before this latest scandal, however, Murdoch and his family have been the target of a festering discontent among some News Corp shareholders after several years of hugely expensive deals that have not delivered.

    "Had he been running almost any other company, or been an outsider appointed to News by the board, Murdoch's job would be on the line."


    Former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell says allegations about payments to royal protection officers "must inevitably raise questions as to whether or not at any stage the safety of the royal family was prejudiced".


    Martin Moore of the Media Standards Trust says the public inquiry into phone-hacking needs to happen very quickly.

    He says it should examine whether other media companies hacked into phones and if different methods of hacking were used.

    Mr Moore says it also needs to investigate police forces outside of just the Metropolitan Police.

    1354: Shane Watters

    writes on our BBC News Facebook wall: The government could stop this deal in a blink of an eye, they are the GOVERNMENT! They could even pass an emergency law. This is all just a smokescreen to try and hang on. I wish the government would stop insulting people's intelligence. At the very least the deal has to be put on hold until all the inquiries are over.


    Dai Davies, a former head of royal protection at the Metropolitan Police, says he is not surprised by allegations News of the World paid for royal contact details.

    What is surprising, he says, is that the details were kept secret.

    "I'm surprised at the length the News International executives have gone to hide this from the original inquiries. And I have some sympathy with Mr Yates and his colleagues for trying to find their way through this maze that they appear to have hidden."

    1358: Jon in Stoke

    emails: Mrs Brooks may not have known about the hacking but she was still the editor at the time and therefore should take the responsibility and go.

    1403: Breaking News

    BBC business editor Robert Peston says one of the e-mails from News of the World suggests the newspaper's royal editor Clive Goodman asked for cash from then-editor Andy Coulson to buy a confidential directory of the royal family's landline telephone numbers.

    The relevant e-mail implies that a police officer in royal protection had stolen the directory, which is known as the Green Book and also contains numbers for the royal officials, and wanted \u00a31,000 for it, our business editor reports.


    Robert Peston says the e-mails suggest News of the World had connections with other police officers who were prepared to sell information for money in a number of palaces.

    1414: L Helm in Lancashire

    texts: I wonder how many others find it as offensive as I do to see Rupert Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks smiling broadly for the news cameras, after the devastation their paper has caused? Would not a little more sobriety be appropriate?


    Ken Wharfe, a former royal protection officer to Princess Diana, says the green book is available to a number of uniformed officers as well as many other people working in the palace.

    He says any leaking of the details may not have automatically put royals at risk.


    News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks has pulled out of a school's end-of-term prize giving night. She was due to hand out the awards on Wednesday at the Fulwood Academy in Preston, Lancashire, where she is a school governor and helped with its newspaper.

    1429: David C in Ipswich, Suffolk

    texts: Can't help feeling that the media is getting too carried away with the implications of this. Give it a few days and some of the names may change and some structures may alter, and it will all die off and everything will carry on as it always did. The only way this affair can have a positive outcome for the British public is if the government introduces a statutory regulator for the press. The broadcast media cope so the papers could as well.


    Former ITN editor-in-chief Stuart Purvis was at Ofcom until last year. He says Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt seems to be struggling with the size of the allegations against News Corporation as it bids for the rest of BSkyB.

    "It's difficult to do anything than draw the conclusion that this is a minister who is looking for a way out which is not to go ahead with the acquisition."


    Want a more in-depth look at the key questions involved in the phone-hacking scandal? Take a look at our Q&A.

    Matthew Brown in Edinburgh

    emails: I really don't understand why it is any business of Ed Miliband or any other politician for that matter, what happens to Rebekah Brooks. This is a private company which only makes money by people voluntarily choosing to buy its products. If people desperately want Brooks to go then stop buying News International products - other than that, it is nothing to do with politicians who private companies hire or fire.


    Scotland Yard says it believes information on its investigation into alleged payments to officers has been leaked.

    It says the stories about a royal protection officer selling material to the News of the World appear to be part of a "deliberate campaign to undermine" its inquiry.

    In a statement, it adds it is "extremely concerned and disappointed" by the release of selected information "shared with us by News International and their legal representatives".

    1501: Vanity Fair magazine journalist and Rupert Murdoch biographer Michael Wolff

    tweets: Get out of Dodge strategy being discussed at News Corp: Sell all of News Int.

    Ann C in St Albans, Hertfordshire

    emails: Was Rebekah Brooks aware of the phone hacking? The answer is irrelevant; it was her responsibility to ensure that she knew that her staff were behaving responsibly, and within the law. She failed on that count.

    Laura Kuenssberg Chief political correspondent, BBC News channel

    BBCLauraK tweets: Rumours whirling around Westminster of more to come this afternoon perhaps with other papers, not just NoTW - PM press conference later too.


    Rupert Murdoch's biographer Michael Wolff speculates about News Corps' possible future business strategy. He tells the BBC News Channel that the option of selling News International is just one idea being discussed within the company, which makes most of its money from TV and film.


    News International's headquarters in east London has had heightened press interest outside its doors since the phone-hacking scandal intensified last week.

    Members of the media gather outside News International"s office in London, Monday 11 July, 2011

    The closure of the News of the World has become a global news story, with the world's press speculating what the affair might mean for Rupert Murdoch and his media empire.


    The Guardian is reporting that police recently warned the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall that the News of the World may have hacked into their phones.

    The newspaper says it has obtained police records showing that at least 10 members of the royal family have been warned they may have been targeted. Up to now, only five, including the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry, had been identified.


    A BBC investigation has found the Sunday Times, also owned by News International, is alleged to have targeted the personal information of former Prime Minister Gordon Brown at the time he was Chancellor.

    Documents and a phone recording suggest so called "blagging" was used to obtain private financial and property details.


    Prime Minister David Cameron reiterates that he employed Andy Coulson in good faith based on the assurances the former News of the World editor gave him.


    Mr Cameron says a well-resourced police investigation into the phone-hacking allegations is under way and that the judge-led inquiry will begin soon.

    "What we're hearing is absolutely appalling and I'm determined that we will get to the bottom of it."


    News Corporation issues a statement asking Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt to refer its bid for BSkyB to the Competition Commission.

    1601: TV presenter Richard Madeley

    tweets: It's becoming quite clear that NoW considered itself superior and above everyone and everything - the law and the state.


    Mr Cameron says the government will be following correct procedure in terms of News Corporation's BSkyB bid, but he says the company itself should focus on the problems at hand.

    "If I was running that company right now, and with all of the problems and difficulties and the mess, frankly, that there is, they should be focused on clearing that up, rather than the next corporate move."


    News Corporation is formally withdrawing the offer to hive off Sky News as a separate company as part of its proposed takeover of BSkyB. BBC business editor Robert Peston says by referring its bid to the Competition Commission, News Corporation is delaying - but not abandoning - the bidding process.


    Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt is expected to confirm that the BSkyB bid will go to the Competition Commission when he stands up in the Commons in next half hour.


    Mr Cameron wasn't asked about our breaking BSkyB news at his press conference - things are happening too quickly for that - but he did say, for the first time, how he'd feel if it eventually turned out that Andy Coulson had lied to him about his involvement in hacking. "I would be incredibly angry, and incredibly let down," the PM said.


    Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt is now on his feet in the Commons - he says events in the last few minutes have "dramatically changed" the statement he was going to make.


    Mr Hunt says managers at newspapers should not condone the sort of "appalling behaviour" that we've been learning about in recent days.


    At the start of his statement, Mr Hunt apologised for not having given Labour leader Ed Miliband advance sight of what he was going to say. For his part, Mr Miliband looked deeply unimpressed.


    The culture secretary confirms that he is referring the BSkyB bid to the Competition Commission. He says the whole House will welcome this development.


    Mr Hunt is being shouted down by MPs from the Labour bench. Speaker Jon Bercow has to silence them several times.


    Ed Miliband is now on his feet, apparently furious. He says the fact that he wasn't able to see Mr Hunt's statement in advance shows the "chaos" the government is in. He also says it's "an insult to the House and the British public" that the prime minister isn't the one making the statement.


    Mr Miliband says the judge-led inquiry into hacking must begin immediately so there is no time for any relevant evidence to be destroyed.


    "The trouble the government is in is of its own making," says Mr Miliband, moving on to the subject of BSkyB. He says the culture secretary "has now adopted the position he has spent months resisting", while the deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, has taken on Labour's stance. "This government is in complete disarray," he adds.


    Mr Mililband demands that Jeremy Hunt call on Rebekah Brooks to resign - he says the culture secretary should do what the prime minister has failed to.


    Mr Miliband says the prime minister's personal integrity is at stake. He says David Cameron's claim not to have had any specific information to deter him from hiring Andy Coulson simply does not stack up.


    With a barnstorming flourish, Ed Miliband sits down. A rather harangued-looking Jeremy Hunt now gets up to reply. He gets in the flow though and says Mr Cameron did more in the space of a few hours last week on hacking than the previous Labour government did in years.


    Mr Hunt says the Labour leader should be careful before he "throws sticks in glass houses" because he himself has employed a former News International journalist, Tom Baldwin.


    On the subject of BSkyB, Mr Hunt says he's done everything by the book. He also says Mr Miliband should "show some humility" because he attended Rupert Murdoch's summer party but didn't mention the issue of hacking. The already high noise level in the chamber rises even further at those words.


    Former Labour home secretary Alan Johnson says he's surprised "we've got the monkey at the dispatch box rather than the organ grinder". Cue another surge on the decibel-meter. Jeremy Hunt replies by saying he takes being called a monkey very seriously because in his wife's country - China - people used to eat them.


    Lib Dem deputy leader Simon Hughes asks Mr Hunt to join with his party's MPs and others in the Commons and call on Rupert Murdoch to drop his BSkyB bid altogether. In answer, Mr Hunt says everyone in the House is entitled to have a personal view on the deal except him - because, as culture secretary, he must act in a quasi-judicial role on the matter.


    As exchanges continue in the Commons, a bit more on allegations relating to Gordon Brown. As well as concerns about their financial information, the BBC understands that the Brown family are also worried that medical records may have been obtained relating to their son Fraser.


    A well-placed source has told the BBC that in 2006, when she was editor of the Sun, Rebekah Brooks called the Browns to inform them she knew their son Fraser was suffering from cystic fibrosis. The Browns believe only medical staff treating Fraser had access to that information and friends of the family say Ms Brooks' call caused them immense distress since they were only just coming to terms with the diagnosis.


    Labour MP Tom Watson, who has been a long-time campainger on hacking, accuses News International of "institutional criminality". He also says the position of John Yates, assistant commissioner at the Metropolitan Police, is "untenable". Mr Yates has expressed "extreme regret" for not reopening the phone hacking investigation two years ago.


    Labour's Chris Bryant, another vocal hacking campaigner, says Mr Yates is guilty of telling lies - and he uses that emotive word under cover of Parliamentary privilege - about the hacking investigation.


    Another strand of today's developments was the news that Prince Charles and Duchess of Cornwall may have been targeted. Buckingham Palace has said it will not comment on an ongoing police investigation.


    Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt in the Commons hot seat...

    Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt Mr Hunt is now referring the BSkyB bid to the Competition Commission

    Labour's Dennis Skinner gets a big laugh for suggesting that Rupert Murdoch should be sent packing, so to speak, from the country, and suggests the energy secretary could drive him to the airport. This is a dig at Chris Huhne who has issues of his own, you might remember, around a speeding offence.


    A couple of MPs have asked about the practice of "blagging" - a technique employed by some journalists or private detectives employed by them. Blagging, so you know, is pretending to be someone you're not in order to get information. Mr Hunt calls it an "awful" practice.

    To bring you up to speed: 1710:
    • News Corp's bid for BSkyB is to be referred to the Competition Commission
    • The move was prompted by News Corp itself - after it dropped a measure designed to protect UK media plurality
    • Evidence suggests a News of the World reporter tried to buy a phone book containing Royal Family numbers
    • Allegations emerge that the Sunday Times targeted Gordon Brown's personal information
    • The Guardian reports that Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall may have been hacking victims

    tweets I've paid the paper bill. Newsworthy as that is, the story from the local newsagent is a dozen people have cancelled their daily Times #notw


    Labour's Chris Bryant says MPs have been lied to and "led a merry dance" by journalists and police officers at a series of select committee hearings into hacking. He says the public inquiry must investigate that alleged misleading of Parliament.


    Shares in BSkyB have closed nearly 5% lower than they started this morning. In the last week, the share price has dropped a total of 15% - wiping around \u00a32.5bn off the market value of the company.


    In the Commons, Labour MP Paul Farrelly - another culture comittee member frustrated by what he sees as misleading testimony by News International executives - asks why select committees can not have the same powers as congressional committees in the US. Speaker John Bercow says MPs could beef up the committee system if they wanted to.


    Just to say, as the hacking debate ends in the Commons, we still haven't heard anything from News International on the allegations that have emerged today about the Royal Family and Gordon Brown.


    Mark Lewis, solicitor for Milly Dowler's family, tells the BBC the news that her phone was targeted was another blow in a long and terrible ordeal. He says they want to make sure their views on hacking - and those of the concerned public at large - get heard amid the clamour from politicians, police and press.


    Amid all the other developments today, editor of Private Eye magazine Ian Hislop has told a committee of MPs and peers that the Press Complaints Commission has been long been too strongly influenced by News International. He added: "The PCC are the people who censured the Guardian for running the phone hacking story, so you can see why some of us feel their judgement hasn't been awfully hot in the past few years."


    Former Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell claims both his and Nick Clegg's phones were also hacked. He says a former Lib Dem employee went to work for the family of Madeline McCann and hackers listened to their voicemail to try to find out anything they could about the little girl's disappearance.


    Tim Suter, formerly of broadcast regulator Ofcom, points out that the closure of the News of the World actually helps the BSkyB bid on the simple matter of media plurality - one less paper means a smaller grip on news in this country.


    John Whittingdale MP, head of the Commons culture committee, tells the BBC there is "huge public anger" about the hacking allegations. He says it is "disturbing" to hear allegations today about other newspapers aside from the News of the World.


    A brief response has now come in from News International. The statement says: "We note the allegations made today concerning the reporting of matters relating to Gordon Brown. So that we can investigate these matters further, we ask that all information concerning these allegations is provided to us."


    We're going to wrap things up here now - thanks for your contributions. It's hard to predict what will happen next, but we do know that relatives of Milly Dowler will meet Labour leader Ed Miliband on Tuesday to discuss the public inquiry into hacking. Looking a bit further ahead, we also expect the issue to come up again in prime minister's questions on Wednesday - and, crucially, that will be followed by a debate on the BSkyB bid, with Lib Dem MPs expected to join Labour MPs and some Tories in urging the government to block it altogether.


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