As it happened: David Cameron at Leveson Inquiry

Key points

  • The prime minister - Thursday's sole witness - says Gordon Brown's claims about a Tory deal with News International were "complete nonsense"
  • A text message reveals that ex-NI executive Rebekah Brooks told the PM she was "rooting for him" both professionally and personally after the Sun switched allegiance to his party
  • The PM says had he been told Jeremy Hunt could not oversee BSkyB bid, he would not have given him the job

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  1.  
    0931:

    Good morning and welcome to our coverage of David Cameron at the Leveson Inquiry. The prime minister faces up to seven hours of questioning from Robert Jay QC.

     
  2.  
    0934:

    BBC political correspondent Norman Smith says the impression Mr Cameron gives of his judgements and character is as important as the information he provides. It is an enormously important day as people will form a view of what sort of man he is, he says.

     
  3.  
    0936:

    For a full guide to the questions Mr Cameron may face, read our news story here.

     
  4.  
    0937:

    Mr Cameron arrived at the Royal Courts of Justice at just after 09:15 BST. His questioner, Robert Jay QC, arrived for work at 07:00.

     
  5.  
    0941:

    The Leveson Inquiry was sparked by the allegations of phone hacking that emerged last summer. Alongside a police investigation into those matters is one examining claims of illegal payments to public officials. This morning, the Metropolitan Police made three

     
  6.  
    0944: Nick Robinson Political editor

    How Mr Cameron did not foresee that the Leveson Inquiry would become, at least in part, a long-running trial of his personal and political judgements. Read analysis of the PM's appearance here.

     
  7.  
    0946:

    Here is Mr Cameron arriving at the Royal Courts of Justice in central London earlier.

    David Cameron
     
  8.  
    0952:

    For a reminder of what sparked the Leveson Inquiry and what it is trying to achieve, see our Q&A here.

     
  9.  
    1004:

    And we're off. David William Donald Cameron takes the stand and swears his oath.

     
  10.  
    1005:

    Robert Jay QC says Mr Cameron has submitted 84 pages of evidence.

     
  11.  
    Nick Robinson Political editor

    tweets: PM walks in with a cheery morning to the public in Court 73. With him private sec Chris Martin & Comms chief Craig Oliver

     
  12.  
    1007:

    Questioning opens with Mr Cameron's career as a special adviser before he was a politician. Job was to be a mouthpiece and "sponge" for the minister, he says. He describes his approach as "fairly orthodox".

     
  13.  
    1010:

    Says he made some relationships with journalists when he worked at Carlton Communications from 1994-2001 but got to know more political journalists when he was a special adviser.

     
  14.  
    1011:

    The media is not the only way politicians communicate with people, there are some direct forms but it is a very big part, so relationships are important, Mr Cameron says.

     
  15.  
    1014:

    The creation of 24-hour news means newspapers have moved more towards trying to find impact or angle on a story, Mr Cameron says. In the past, more about reporting what happened day before.

     
  16.  
    Ross Hawkins Political correspondent, BBC News

    tweets: Cameron twice says relationships with media figures are important #leveson

     
  17.  
    1016:

    Mr Cameron says 24-hour news means he has put a lot of his focus on broadcasting. He says the audience for big news programmes has fallen but their power is greater as people tend to watch the big news bulletins of an evening.

     
  18.  
    Norman Smith Chief political correspondent, BBC News Channel

    tweets: David Cameron says 24 hour news "change for worse" for Govt cos papers forced to focus on impact not y'days news. #leveson

     
  19.  
    1018:

    Some press campaigns are extraordinarily important and powerful, Mr Cameron says. A politician has to judge whether a campaign is reflective of what people think or whether it is one you're prepared to have a disagreement over. He gives example of the Daily Telegraph's objection to planning reform as one he disagreed with.

     
  20.  
    1019:

    If a paper gets a good campaign going and taps into a vein of public concern, it's something that's good for democracy. He cites the Sarah's Law campaign run by the News of the World as one which was controversial but highlighted public feeling.

     
  21.  
    1022:

    The relationship between press and politicians has become "bad", Mr Cameron says. Greater transparency and distance will help resolve it. He says MPs "took a massive knock" over the "expenses scandal", while the media has also taken a "massive knock" from some of the evidence at the Leveson Inquiry itself.

     
  22.  
    1022:

    Politicians have to get out of 24-hour news cycle, not fight every battle, otherwise they will never deal with long-term issues such as schools and fighting the deficit, Mr Cameron says.

     
  23.  
    1024:

    "In the past 20 years the relationship has not been right, has been too close and we need to try and get it on a better footing," Mr Cameron says.

     
  24.  
    1024:

    Increased transparency is not enough, the regulatory system needs to be improved, Mr Cameron says.

     
  25.  
    Ross Hawkins Political correspondent, BBC News

    tweets: (Cameron saying shdn't have excessive press regulation but clear hint he thinks we do need more such regulation)

     
  26.  
    Peter Hunt News correspondent

    tweets: Cameron -- not an oft uttered sentence? I thought Ed Milliband put this quite well.

     
  27.  
    1030:

    Mr Cameron says when things were going wrong between press and politicians, they didn't "disengage and say 'we have a problem here and need to deal with it'".

     
  28.  
    1031:

    Says the government and opposition did not give enough attention to findings of Operation Motorman - a 2003 investigation by the Information Commissioner's Office into allegations of offences under the Data Protection Act by the British press.

     
  29.  
    Rob Ollis from Bath

    emails: Cameron says we need to make regulatory system work. We need independent system. Isn't that what the ministerial code, making MP's responsible for their special advisers is about?

     
  30.  
    1035:

    Mr Cameron says he thought former Prime Minister Tony Blair's evidence was "powerful". He recognises that Mr Blair knew there was a problem between press and politicians but didn't deal with it because of other "enormous challenges" he faced.

     
  31.  
    1035:

    Mr Cameron giving evidence at the Leveson Inquiry.

    David Cameron
     
  32.  
    Chris Ward from Birmingham

    emails: The press should be allowed to ask questions in a robust manner.There is legal redress if they try to go too far.The politicians need to learn how to say no and to understand that they have a duty to the public not to themselves.

     
  33.  
    1037:

    Mr Cameron says the issue isn't necessarily the size of the newspaper group but the strength of a voice of the paper. Says Daily Mail has an incredibly powerful voice.

     
  34.  
    Ross Hawkins Political correspondent, BBC News

    tweets: (v different tone from Clegg worrying about about paper groups getting too big)

     
  35.  
    1038:

    Mr Cameron says he doesn't agree there is a problem with fusion of news and analysis.

     
  36.  
    1041:

    Newspapers do play a very important role in terms of accountability, Mr Cameron says.

     
  37.  
    Norman Smith Chief political correspondent, BBC News Channel

    tweets: "The thing u spend your time on are the Six o'clock news and the Ten o'clock news" - David Cameron #leveson

     
  38.  
    1043:

    Mr Cameron says he cannot think of any examples where politicians have traded a policy in return for coverage.

     
  39.  
    Nick Robinson Political editor

    tweets: PM determined not to offend press. Praises campaigns - "right we have vigorous debates" & says understands problem of related by 24/7 media

     
  40.  
    1046:

    Mr Cameron says New Labour focused on the media because Conservative Prime Minister John Major had received such "wretched press". He said that, plus the advent of 24-hour media, is why the pendulum has swung too far.

     
  41.  
    1047:

    We're here because of the "truly dreadful things" that have happened to members of the public whose lives had been turned upside down by losing children, then have been turned upside down again, Mr Cameron says.

     
  42.  
    1047:

    This is a cathartic moment when there is a chance to reset relationships between the press, politicians and police, he adds.

     
  43.  
    1050:

    Guardian journalist David Leigh, who admitted hacking an arms company executive's phone, will not be prosecuted, the Crown Prosecution Service says. The public interest does not require a prosecution of the journalist, who has given evidence to Lord Justice Leveson, the CPS says.

     
  44.  
    1050:

    Mr Cameron says he had no "covert agreements" with the media, and never traded policies in return for their support.

     
  45.  
    Ross Hawkins Political correspondent, BBC News

    tweets: Q Have you seen vices of anon briefings manipulation of media by pols in your party? Yes, is v regrettable, deeply destructive

     
  46.  
    Norman Smith Chief political correspondent, BBC News Channel

    tweets: David Cameron says "nonsense" to suggest there was a deal or "nod and wink" arrangement between Tories and News Int #leveson

     
  47.  
    1053:

    Questioning turns to Mr Cameron's personal approach to the media.

     
  48.  
    1054:

    When he became leader of the Conservatives, he wanted to get his message across to began "proactive campaign" of approaching regional and national media, Mr Cameron says.

     
  49.  
    1056:

    Mr Cameron says he has a yearly strategy of what issues he wants to get across, then looks at where he knows he will only have small amount of impact, such as papers like the Daily Mirror who do not support the Conservatives.

     
  50.  
    1059:

    Mr Cameron says: "We know the TV can't be on our side because there are rules of impartiality but a huge amount of time was spent thinking about how we get our message across on TV. As I said, that is the most important medium."

     
  51.  
    1100:

    There is potential for improvement with two types of meetings, he says - in meetings where it's obvious the proprietor has commercial issues, a note should be taken, or, if there's a discussion about commercial interests in meeting about policy.

     
  52.  
    1100:

    Mr Cameron lists a small number of journalists who are close friends in his statement.

     
  53.  
    Nick Robinson Political editor

    tweets: PM keeps saying TV not press his focus. Could he be getting defence in early for story of wining, dining & horse riding with, er, the press?

     
  54.  
    1101:

    Mr Cameron says he went through his address book with his permanent secretary and listed what every friend did for a living, so any future conflict had not been buried.

     
  55.  
    KJ from Thatcham

    emails: Its easy for Cameron to down play the issue of mixing fact and comment when the majority of newspapers support the conservatives. The problem is that the opposition cannot get a fair hearing if the basic facts of their arguments are being constantly distorted by presenting opinion as fact.

     
  56.  
    Ross Hawkins Political correspondent, BBC News

    tweets: Cameron: you can't unmake the friendships that you have & some of these people i've known for 20 30 years #leveson

     
  57.  
    Chris Ward from Birmingham

    emails: Mr Cameron is trying so hard not to say anything that may offend anyone in either camp. He seems uncomfortable in the answers that he is giving.

     
  58.  
    1104:

    Mr Cameron says he has had conversations with newspaper proprietors where they have made it clear the policies they support and oppose.

     
  59.  
    1105:

    Says he has tried to win back to the Conservative cause papers that had switched support to Labour under Tony Blair.

     
  60.  
    1105:

    Mr Cameron says you "can overdo" the influence of newspapers. "In no way does winning the support of a newspaper guarantee an election victory," he says.

     
  61.  
    1106:

    Mr Cameron says: "I won the leadership election with no support from newspapers. It was television that helped me to get my message across."

     
  62.  
    1110:

    I didn't have widespread support from the Conservative press for the changes I was making to the party, Mr Cameron says.

     
  63.  
    1110:

    If you are trying to create momentum it's quite difficult unless you have all bits of the Conservative family - MPs, MEPs, councillors and the bits of the Conservative press behind you, Mr Cameron says. I was struggling to get some of the message across in the press so I put in some more work, he adds.

     
  64.  
    1112:

    In four years in opposition, Mr Cameron had 1,404 meetings with "media figures" or 26 meetings or interviews a month. In government, 13 a month.

     
  65.  
    1116:

    Mr Cameron says you have to try to create a set-up in office where you can think, take decisions, structure your day so you're not permanently in "news warfare mode".

     
  66.  
    1117:

    Mr Cameron met Rupert Murdoch 10 times, James Murdoch 15 times and Rebekah Brooks 19 times, while in opposition. He says this doesn't always include weekend social meetings.

     
  67.  
    Nick Robinson Political editor

    tweets: In opposition Cameron had 10 meetings with Rupert Murdoch, 15 with James & 19 with Rebekah plus social. Many many more than with TV folk.

     
  68.  
    John Rye from Malvern

    emails: Mr Cameron says you "can overdo" the influence of newspapers."In no way does winning the support of a newspaper guarantee an election victory," Perhaps, but its hostility can guarantee an election defeat. That's why they do have a huge influence.

     
  69.  
    Paul Benjamin from Sunbury, Middlesex

    emails: I'm not certain what the first hours questioning and answers have got to do with the Inquiry set-up? It just seems like a party political broadcast.

     
  70.  
    1120:

    The hearing adjourns for a short break.

     
  71.  
    Lauren Turner Press Association reporter

    tweets: Break for ten minutes. "Tweeting away?" asks Cameron with a smile as he walks past reporters

     
  72.  
    Steve from London

    emails: Isn't Cameron actually digging a hole for himself? This bias towards television over newspapers goes a long way to supporting and 'managing' the conservatives relationship with the Murdochs over the BSkyB.takeover.

     
  73.  
    1132:

    Mr Cameron says he has known Matthew Freud for 20 years and his wife, Elisabeth Murdoch, since they got married.

     
  74.  
    1135:

    Mr Cameron says a 2008 visit to Santorini where the Murdochs were present was Matthew Freud's idea. He says he saw it as an opportunity to get to know Rupert Murdoch better.

     
  75.  
    1135:

    "It all came together very quickly at the last minute," he adds.

     
  76.  
    Chris Evans from Abergavenny

    emails: If Cameron thinks you 'can overdo' the influence of newspapers why spend so much time courting them?

     
  77.  
    1139:

    The questioning has turned to his meetings with News International executives.

     
  78.  
    1141:

    David Cameron says he had lunch with Sun editor in 2009 but doesn't remember specifics of conversation.

     
  79.  
    Nick Robinson Political editor

    tweets: Cameron just asked about meeting me. List I can see on screen in court (not all published yet) shows 2 interviews & 2 filming trips in 2009

     
  80.  
    Ross Hawkins Political correspondent, BBC News

    tweets: Cameron: some of James Murdoch views I didn't agree with; I had clear position BBC is cornerstone of UK broadcasting, need licence fee

     
  81.  
    1144:

    Mr Cameron says James Murdoch told him in Sep 2009 that the Sun would switch support to Conservatives at Labour Party conference, three weeks later.

     
  82.  
    Simon Massey

    tweets: @BBC_HaveYourSay Is it me? or does David Cameron seem to have the worst memory and recall in HISTORY!

     
  83.  
    1146:

    Mr Cameron says James Murdoch told him the Sun would support the Conservatives "because of the economic picture".

     
  84.  
    1146:

    "In my dealings with Rupert Murdoch, most conversation has been about big international political issues," Mr Cameron says.

     
  85.  
    Ross Hawkins Political correspondent, BBC News

    tweets: Jay lists Cameron News Int meetings after Sun backed Cons, Cameron points out he met lots of other news orgs at time #leveson

     
  86.  
    1150:

    Mr Jay asks whether Mr Cameron is aware of News Corp lobbyist Fred Michel 's role. "I've read a lot of texts," he replies. "Well I have now."

     
  87.  
    1152:

    Mr Jay is now looking at Daily Telegraph owner Aidan Barclay's text message exchanges with Mr Cameron.

     
  88.  
    1153:

    Mr Jay asks: "Does he have access to you in a particular way?" Mr Cameron says he had wanted to share his views. "I don't think there was anything particularly improper about that."

     
  89.  
    1156:

    Mr Cameron says he had not developed a strategy on how to win over the Sun. "We developed strategy on how to explain values and policies we believed in. Obviously when talking to the Sun you're going to talk about policies that appeal to their reader," he says.

     
  90.  
    1157:

    Mr Cameron says he knew Rupert Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks had good relationships with Gordon Brown. "I knew we had our work cut out to win over the Sun," he says.

     
  91.  
    1158:

    On Rebekah Brooks, Mr Cameron says: "I remember some strong arguments where I would be berating the government and she was standing up pretty vigorously for Gordon Brown."

     
  92.  
    Ross Hawkins Political correspondent, BBC News

    tweets: Cameron: I've moved away from email, do my official papers formally, do get texts from biz contacts & friends #leveson

     
  93.  
    1201:

    Mr Cameron says "I don't want to ruin his career" before adding that he had felt then Sun political editor Trevor Kavanagh was a "potential ally". "He was someone who felt the Labour Party was getting it wrong and the Conservative Party was getting its act together."

     
  94.  
    1203:

    Mr Cameron says he and Rebekah Brooks got to know each other because of her role in the media and his role in politics. He says they struck up a friendship, even though the paper supported Labour at that time, and this got stronger when she married Charlie Brooks, who was Mr Cameron's friend and neighbour.

     
  95.  
    Nick Robinson Political editor

    tweets: Now onto subject of Murdoch, Brooks & Sun PM back on guard - answers often terse, often "can't recall", looks tense

     
  96.  
    1205:

    Mr Cameron says the contact with Mrs Brooks increased by 2009 as the election got closer and she moved in with Charlie Brooks. Mr Cameron says that meant they saw each other socially more.

     
  97.  
    1205:

    Charlie Brooks' house is near Mr Cameron's constituency in Witney in Oxfordshire.

     
  98.  
    1207:

    "Once she started going out with Charlie I was seeing her more often," Mr Cameron says, but adds he didn't see her every weekend.

     
  99.  
    Nick Robinson Political editor

    tweets: Key moment so far. Q Did you see Rebekah Brooks every or most weekends? A Not every...don't think every or most..it would depend

     
  100.  
    Ross Hawkins Political correspondent, BBC News

    tweets: looks like we have new Brooks / Cameron texts

     
  101.  
    1210:
    Charlie and Rebekah Brooks

    Mr Cameron has been questioned about his friendship with Rebekah Brooks and her husband Charlie

     
  102.  
    1212:

    On a text on 7 October 2009 from Mrs Brooks to Mr Cameron in which she says, "professionally we're in this together", Mr Cameron says it means "together we're going to be pushing the same political agenda", as the Sun had decided to back the Tories.

     
  103.  
    1214:

    Mr Cameron says he doesn't recall being asked by Mrs Brooks to support review of the Madeleine McCann case by Met Police. He says: "I don't remember any specific pressure being put on me."

     
  104.  
    Ross Hawkins Political correspondent, BBC News

    tweet: Brown allegation of deal nonsense from start to finish, specious & unjustified conspiracy theory

     
  105.  
    1216: Breaking News

    Mr Cameron dismisses as "nonsense" Gordon Brown's suggestion that there was a deal with News International under which the Conservatives would back its views on Ofcom and the BBC in return for the support of its newspapers.

     
  106.  
    1218:

    Mr Cameron accuses Mr Brown of coming up with a conspiracy theory fuelled by his anger and disappointment at the Sun switching its support from Labour to the Conservatives.

     
  107.  
    1218:

    We froze the licence fee, much to the anger of James Murdoch - we had our own policy on the BBC, Mr Cameron says.

     
  108.  
    1219:

    Mr Cameron says: "We had a consistent and long-term argument that the BBC needed the backing of licence fee, I do think it had gone into areas it shouldn't do and think it's a fair settlement for the BBC and it's certainly not one James Murdoch supported."

     
  109.  
    Ross Hawkins Political correspondent, BBC News

    tweet (suspect big picture here is Cameron has to live with that incredibly awkward text, but absolutely denying any deal in detail & with refs)

     
  110.  
    Mary Contrarian

    tweets: @BBC_HaveYourSay When relationships are this close, how can there not be "trading policy for support"?

     
  111.  
    Nick Robinson Political editor

    tweets: Key text - Brooks to Cam - Oct 2009 "I am so rooting for you... we're definitely in this together! Speech of your life? Yes he Cam!"

     
  112.  
    Norman Smith Chief political correspondent, BBC News Channel

    tweets: Awkward, awkward,awkward. Rebekah Brooks text to Cameron on eve of 2009 Conf speech "we're definitely in this together" #leveson

     
  113.  
    1227:

    On suggestion that there may be a perception of a deal, even if he denies an overt or covert one, Mr Cameron says, "you get into witchcraft trials, how do you ever prove you are innocent?"

     
  114.  
    1228:

    Mr Cameron adds his polices were based on firmly held beliefs, not deals or nods and winks.

     
  115.  
    1228:

    Questioning turns to the appointment of former News of the World editor Andy Coulson as his communications chief.

     
  116.  
    1229:

    "We wanted the right person with the right skills," Mr Cameron says. Issues come in "fast and furious and you need someone seriously good at dealing with it," he adds. "I was looking for a big hitter."

     
  117.  
    1230:

    Two or three other names considered for the role, including from broadsheets, Mr Cameron says.

     
  118.  
    1230:

    Mr Cameron says at time of appointment, Mr Coulson was only tabloid editor available.

     
  119.  
    1233:

    Mr Cameron says he saw Guto Harri, someone senior in BBC, someone senior at a broadsheet and a tabloid journalist. "This will set a guessing game with people in the media," Mr Cameron says.

     
  120.  
    1234:

    Mr Cameron says assurances were sought and obtained about phone hacking from Mr Coulson in a meeting with Cabinet Office Minister Frances Maude and chief of staff Ed Llewellyn ahead of his appointment.

     
  121.  
    1235:
    Andy Coulson

    Mr Cameron is facing lengthy questioning about the appointment of Andy Coulson.

     
  122.  
    1236:

    I asked for these assurances as well, he adds.

     
  123.  
    1236:

    I felt it was the right thing to have a tabloid editor in the role and it was my decision to hire him, Mr Cameron says.

     
  124.  
    Ross Hawkins Political correspondent, BBC News

    tweets: Cameron: both Osborne & I formed impression Coulson was a very effective individual #leveson

     
  125.  
    1237:

    "She thought it was a good decision as she thought he was an effective operator," says Mr Cameron of Rebekah Brooks's reaction to the appointment of Mr Coulson.

     
  126.  
    1240:

    Mr Cameron says he sought assurances on phone hacking in a face-to-face meeting in his office with Andy Coulson and can "vaguely remember" a further telephone call. "I knew it was very important that I needed to ask him that question," he says.

     
  127.  
    Ross Hawkins Political correspondent, BBC News

    tweets Jay & Cameron debating whether Cameron asked Coulson about hacking on phone or face to face

     
  128.  
    1245: Breaking News

    "I asked for the assurances, I got them and that was the basis on which I employed him," Mr Cameron says of Mr Coulson and his knowledge of phone hacking.

     
  129.  
    1246:

    Mr Cameron says it was "clearly a controversial appointment". This is because Mr Coulson had resigned from his last job (at the News of the World) after "things that had happened" and because others would say "don't have a tabloid editor", he explains.

     
  130.  
    1248:

    Mr Cameron says as a tabloid editor, Mr Coulson actually came up with one of the most "destructive" headlines about him - "Hug a hoodie," which the PM denies he ever said.

     
  131.  
    1248:

    "My view was it was necessary to have someone tough and robust, he did his job very well and had a good code of behaviour in how he did his job," Mr Cameron says.

     
  132.  
    Michelle Cook

    emails: Andy Coulson was the only tabloid editor available? Strange, of all the organisations I've ever worked for not one of them has ever insisted that their Head of Comms had a background in tabloid journalism. I fail to see the need unless you are trying to insinuate yourself in certain circles.

     
  133.  
    1251:

    Mr Cameron says he thought Mr Coulson deserved a second chance as he "thought he had done the honourable thing" in resigning from the News of the World. He says: "Something very bad had happened at the newspaper he edited, he didn't know and resigned."

     
  134.  
    1253:

    On whether he had made an error of judgement, Mr Cameron says: "You don't make decisions with 20-20 hindsight."

     
  135.  
    Ross Hawkins Political correspondent, BBC News

    tweets: Coulson wasn't hired to get NI onside, calculation was who is going to be good enough, tough enough

     
  136.  
    1256:

    Mr Cameron says he will be held accountable for the decision to hire Mr Coulson. "I don't try and run away from that decision," he says.

     
  137.  
    1258:

    Mr Cameron said he felt it was right that Mr Coulson continued to work for him following a 2009 article in the Guardian suggesting hacking had been wider at the NoW, as he had repeated assurances to him and the DCMS select committee.

     
  138.  
    1259:

    Mr Cameron adds that Mr Coulson also gave assurances that he had not known about the extent of phone hacking to the police, the CPS and the Press Complaints Commission.

     
  139.  
    1259: Breaking News

    If anyone had provided any evidence Mr Coulson had known about phone-hacking "I wouldn't have employed him and I would have fired him," Mr Cameron says.

     
  140.  
    1300:

    The hearing breaks for lunch.

     
  141.  
    1304:

    The live page will resume with more from Mr Cameron at about 14:00 BST.

     
  142.  
    1407:

    We're back.

     
  143.  
    1408:

    Mr Cameron wants to add to his evidence on social contact with Rebekah and Charlie Brooks. His wife, Samantha has said they were only in the constituency on 23 weekends in 2008, 23 in 2009, 15 in 2010. She says they didn't see the couple more than one every six weeks. Mr Cameron acknowledges that his wife keeps a better record of these things than him.

     
  144.  
    1408:

    Aside from that, evidence is still focused on Andy Coulson.

     
  145.  
    1409:

    I don't recall any specifics of concerns expressed by others over Mr Coulson's appointment, Mr Cameron says.

     
  146.  
    1410:

    A handful of people expressed concerns, he adds.

     
  147.  
    1410:

    Tory MP Andrew Tyrie was among those who raised concerns about Mr Coulson, Mr Cameron says.

     
  148.  
    1411:

    On security clearance, the issue of who is cleared to what level is an issue by the civil service, not the prime minister, Mr Cameron says.

     
  149.  
    Nick Robinson Political editor

    tweets: Sam Cam clarifies PM's evidence. Didn't meet Brooks every or most weekends as not in country that often. Judge - "the great value of wives"

     
  150.  
    1413:

    Mr Cameron says the issue of Mr Coulson's security vetting is a "complete red herring" as it is a civil service decision and perfectly normal.

     
  151.  
    1414:

    Mr Coulson made an "instant" denial of accusations over hacking in a 2010 New York Times article. "I was made aware of it and the key point was Andy Coulson denied the accusation," Mr Cameron says. Details of accusations not being aired.

     
  152.  
    1420:

    Mr Cameron says he had a had a number if conversations with Mr Coulson about his impending resignation, following the NYT piece. He says it was the start of the process, recalling that Mr Coulson put it: "When the spokesman needs a spokesman it's time to move on." He adds: "He was finding his job impossible to do because of all these stories and the rest of it."

     
  153.  
    1421:

    There has been a string of failures over phone hacking, the PM says. The failure of the newspaper in the first place, the failure of the police to investigate it properly and the failure of select committees to get to the bottom of it. He says it took a "cataclysmic event" - the "appalling Mily Dowler revelations - before the whole thing got opened up in the way it should have done, he says.

     
  154.  
    1421:

    Questioning moves on to the issue of the BSkyB bid.

     
  155.  
    1422:

    It was a political "hot potato", Mr Cameron says.

     
  156.  
    1424:

    Mr Cameron says he does not recall discussions with George Osborne on the bid other than the day Vince Cable's comments about "declaring war" on the Murdochs were made public.

     
  157.  
    James Kelly

    texts: I wonder how many times Cameron will say "I don 't recall!".

     
  158.  
    1424:

    Mr Cameron also doesn't remember specific conversations with Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt on the bid.

     
  159.  
    Norman Smith Chief political correspondent, BBC News Channel

    tweets: David Cameron says he had no knowledge of BSKYB bid before it was launched in June 2010

     
  160.  
    1427:
    Jeremy Hunt

    Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has been under intense pressure over his handling of the BSkyB bid by News Corporation.

     
  161.  
    1429:

    Mr Cameron says he didn't recall the existence of a memo from Mr Hunt supporting the bid on 21 December, the day responsibility for it was handed to the culture secretary.

     
  162.  
    Celia Louise

    tweets: What I still don't understand: Vince lost the job because he was anti BSkyB bid. Hunt got the job and he was *very* pro. Hmmmm

     
  163.  
    1431:

    The PM says the decision to transfer the power to Mr Hunt was suggested by his permanent secretary, recommended by the cabinet secretary and cleared by the legal advice he received. He says he accepts there is controversy but their backing is "a strong state of affairs".

     
  164.  
    1433:

    Defending the memo from Mr Hunt, the PM says the culture, media and sport secretary had been standing up for the sector he represents. "He is making clear an understanding of the limitations of what a sponsoring department should do."

     
  165.  
    1434:

    Nothing remarkable about the culture secretary reflecting views of those in media sector, PM says.

     
  166.  
    Sam Rourke from Chester

    emails: We're asking a man to remember specifics about conversations he had up to 3 years ago. I'd challenge anyone to remember who they met 3 years ago today, let alone what specific subjects they discussed!

     
  167.  
    Roger Forse from Brisol

    emails: Why does the inquiry need a roomful of people, listening, looking at screens and doing nothing except cost the taxpayer money, in a court a barrister may have 2 helpers but this looks like 30 people.

    l

     
  168.  
    1436:

    Mr Cameron says he was happy with Vince Cable overseeing the BSkyB bid, but that became impossible when his comments about "declaring war" on Rupert Murdoch became public.

     
  169.  
    Mark from Leamington Spa

    emails: It is plausible that Cameron does not recall a specific conversation, but to not know Osbourne's/Hunt's views on the BSKYB bid is highly implausible. A Prime Minister would know a senior minister's views.

     
  170.  
    1437:

    There may be a case for taking politicians out of these decisions altogether, Mr Cameron says.

     
  171.  
    Craig

    texts: Cameron's links to News Corp are perhaps shown more than anything through his 'Rupert Murdoch' inspired performance at Leveson today; his 'memory' is astounding.

     
  172.  
    Ross Hawkins Political correspondent, BBC News

    tweets: Jay asks if Cameron had any convs with J Murdoch about bid not just any inappropriate conversations, doesn't get answer as such #leveson

     
  173.  
    1440:

    Mr Cameron says what Vince Cable said was "very embarrassing for the government" and afterwards he had a phone call with James Murdoch. He says he wanted to make clear, entirely appropriately, that it was wrong, shouldn't have happened and the bid would be dealt with entirely properly.

     
  174.  
    1441:

    On finding out about Mr Cable's comments, "it was quite an important moment as they were important and significant remarks", the PM says.

     
  175.  

    'I don't recall' how David Cameron's memory failed him at #leveson. via @TelegraphNews

     
  176.  
    1445:

    The idea of moving the responsibility of the BSkyB bid from Mr Cable to Mr Hunt was suggested by Cabinet Secretary Jeremy Heywood, Mr Cameron says. It followed a series of meetings with Mr Clegg and Downing Street staff.

     
  177.  
    1445:

    The decision had to be made quickly, and took place within two hours, because of the 24-hour news schedule but was not rushed, Mr Cameron says.

     
  178.  
    Norman Smith Chief political correspondent, BBC News Channel

    tweets: "Vince Cable was an extremely good business secretary..second most important Lib Dem... and I did not want to lose him " - PM

     
  179.  
    Susan Joekes from London

    emails: If Cameron was so aware that all politicians were partial on the BSkyB bid why did he not tell Hunt to refer it to the independent Competition Commission even if - or especially because - Murdoch was so hostile to this suggestion?

     
  180.  
    Norman Smith Chief political correspondent, BBC News Channel

    tweets Giving responsibility for BSKYB bid to Jeremy Hunt was "a neat and straight forward solution" - David Cameron

     
  181.  
    Ross Hawkins Political correspondent, BBC News

    tweets: Cameron: in 24 hour news environment can't spend hours or half days deciding what to do #leveson

     
  182.  
    1448:

    PM says after the Mr Cable issue, it was decided Mr Hunt's public statements on the Murdochs needed to be checked too.

     
  183.  
    1451:

    PM suggests legal advice taken on Mr Hunt getting responsibility for BSkyB takeover bid between 16:55 and 17:45 on 21 December 2010.

     
  184.  
    1452:

    Legal advice was sought on Mr Hunt and came back clear, Mr Cameron says. "It was not a rushed, botched, political decision," he adds.

     
  185.  
    1453: Breaking News

    "If anyone had told me Jeremy Hunt couldn't do the job I wouldn't have given him the job," the PM says.

     
  186.  
    Ross Hawkins Political correspondent, BBC News

    tweets: (at issue here, whether lawyers can do their jobs quickly; #leveson room not lacking in lawyers)

     
  187.  
    Nick Robinson Political editor

    tweets: Jay/Leveson clearly shocked that legal advice on whether Hunt could take charge of BSKYB bid given by lawyer on mobile on hols at speed.

     
  188.  
    Peter Adams

    tweets: @BBC_HaveYourSay seems that Cameron is on unsafe grounds with the appt of hunt, all this retrospect advice is a little bit suspect and twee

     
  189.  
    1459:

    When the story of Milly Dowler's phone being hacked broke in July last year, Mr Cameron says he said that processes had to be followed, but if he had been running the company he wouldn't have been setting up a corporate move but cleaning up the mess that had been made.

     
  190.  
    1459:

    Questioning turns onto what should happen in future.

     
  191.  
    1503:

    Mr Cameron says: "Because of all the issues [phone hacking] has raised in terms of press conduct, police conduct and the relationships between politicians and the media, some of the distance and better processes that are required are already being put in place."

     
  192.  
    1503:

    Role of special advisers in quasi-judicial processes needs to improve, Mr Cameron says.

     
  193.  
    1505:

    Mr Cameron says he is looking for better management of advisers centrally and by individual ministers. Ultimately responsibility lies with him, he adds.

     
  194.  
    1512:

    Mr Cameron says advisers are needed as they ensure there is no politicisation of the civil service, but they need more training and structure to ensure they know what they can and cannot do.

     
  195.  
    Norman Smith Chief political correspondent, BBC News Channel

    tweets: Leveson says SPADS do not get the mentoring, monitoring,appraisal that civil servants get. Methinks Away Days for Spads loom #leveson

     
  196.  
    Stephen Hall from Edinburgh

    emails: Astounding that a decision to replace Cable is made in under 2 hours. Those who gave the advice should be questioned.

     
  197.  
    1515:

    "The BBC can be quite an aggressive lobbyist on issues like licence fee and charter renewal," Mr Cameron says.

     
  198.  
    1520:

    On friendships with members of the media, the PM says there should be transparency about meetings, then ministers should have proper conversations with their permanent secretaries about their friendships and jobs they do, in case it subsequently comes out that there's been some conflict of interest.

     
  199.  
    1520:

    Short break.

     
  200.  
    1531:

    We're back, with a discussion of how the political culture can change.

     
  201.  
    1531:

    Proper respect and distance from the media are the key, backed up by regulation, the PM says.

     
  202.  
    1533:

    Mr Cameron says he is still going to have meetings with newspaper figures to try to get his message across, but that will happen with a bit more formality and respect.

     
  203.  
    1534:

    The system of self-regulation isn't working - what we put in its place partly depends on how newspapers respond to the challenge, the PM says.

     
  204.  
    1535:

    Behavioural changes and rule changes are needed, says PM. "But what's taken a long time to go wrong" will "take a long time to be put right".

     
  205.  
    1537:

    Mr Cameron says he keeps saying in the Commons that changes to the regulatory system "must not be revenge for the expenses scandal". "That was a scandal and it was good that the press revealed it, however painful that might have been [for MPs]."

     
  206.  
    1539:

    Some of the evidence heard at this inquiry has been heartbreaking and shocking, Mr Cameron says. The test of any changes will be whether families such as the Dowlers who get caught up in the media maelstrom and get "totally mistreated" get protection, he adds.

     
  207.  
    1540:

    Mr Cameron says he will never forget meeting the Dowler family in Downing Street to run through the terms of the Leveson Inquiry. Their pain and agony was "trebled" by what had happened to them with regards to phone hacking, he adds.

     
  208.  
    1540:

    Mr Cameron apologises to Lord Justice Leveson for handing him this "hot potato". "I don't think you sound sorry for doing that at all actually," the judge replies wryly.

     
  209.  
    Norman Smith Chief political correspondent, BBC News Channel

    tweets: I have a concern about full on statutory regulation of the press - David Cameron #leveson

     
  210.  
    1546:

    The PM says concerns over statutory regulation have to be understood as solutions are considered. "We have to make everything independent work before you reach for that lever," he says.

     
  211.  
    1549:

    Lord Justice Leveson says: "I am absolutely opposed to a system that generates more work for lawyers, you can trust me on that." Mr Cameron smiles.

     
  212.  
    1550:

    The PM says there can't be a situation where people don't go to the Press Complaints Commission because they think they'll have to relive the nightmare and not get a satisfactory outcome, the PM says.

     
  213.  
    1550:

    "We can't say it's the last-chance saloon all over again, we've done that," Mr Cameron says.

     
  214.  
    1551:

    A system which falls short of statutory regulation could be something like withdrawing rights to the lobby, Mr Cameron says.

     
  215.  
    1556:

    The PM says: "If families like the Dowlers feel [what results from this inquiry] would have changed the way they have been treated, we have done our job properly."

     
  216.  
    1559:

    Mr Cameron ends his evidence with a joke about the story this week that he left his daughter Nancy behind in a pub. He says he's heard stories from MPs who were left in motorway service stations and butchers' shops. "It's helped me understand my colleagues better," he adds.

     
  217.  
    Ben Mear

    tweets: #leveson Cameron ends on a gag and everyone forgets why they are there

     
  218.  
    Nick Robinson Political editor

    tweets: PM wants front page apologies but doesn't want new law. Suggests papers refusing to join/respect new regulator lose right to lobby briefings

     
  219.  
    Patrick Wintour, Guardian political editor

    tweets: Memo to DC and Leveson If you think attending a lobby meeting is a favour, think again.

     
  220.  
    1609:

    BBC political editor Nick Robinson says the five hours of questioning showed the PM outside of his comfort zone "and didn't he look uncomfortable". On his friendship with Rebekah Brooks, his checks on appointing Andy Coulson and the legal advice he received on Jeremy Hunt, he was awkward. "When he was asked about details on those people, his body language got tighter, answers got shorter, and the phrase, 'I can't recall' appeared, our correspondent adds.

     
  221.  
    1614:

    Nick Robinson says the prime minister's personal and political judgement were on trial, but there was "no smoking gun". He adds there was evidence of the "context and the flavour and the colour of his deep personal relationship with Rebekah Brooks", and the context of the "rushed decision" on who should oversee the BSkyB bid, but "no single fact that should cause him any trouble".

     
  222.  
    1616:

    Nick Robinson says the message Mr Cameron tried to get out was simple: "If you are accusing me of doing a deal with one of the most powerful media moguls, it didn't happen."

     
  223.  
    1618:

    Nick Robinson says he observed Mr Cameron shaking hands with Mr Jay at the end of his evidence. "Mr Jay looked very relaxed. The prime minister looked like he wanted to get in his car, have a very stiff drink and forget today ever happened."

     
  224.  
    Patrick Wintour, Guardian political editor

    tweets: Cameron shaky and embarrassed by Brooks intimacy and oddly vague about future of press regulation. Otherwise totally alive.

     
  225.  
    1634:

    That's it from us. Keep across our news stories for any further updates and analysis.

     

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