London: In a rare show of cross-party
consensus, the David Cameron government has signalled its
willingness to support the opposition Labour party's motion in
the House of Commons, asking media baron Rupert Murdoch to
withdraw his takeover bid of BSkyB.
The motion is to be tabled on Wednesday in a clear sign of
Britain's political establishment rising against the illegal
and unethical news-gathering practices of Murdoch's media
company in Britain, as evident in the phone-hacking scandal.
The motion reads, "This House believes that it is in
the public interest for Rupert Murdoch and News Corporation to
withdraw its bid for BSkyB".
Murdoch currently owns 39 per cent of the broadcaster
BSkyB, and the bid is to own the remaining shares to give his
company total control of what will become Britain's biggest
media company, bigger than even the BBC.
Prime Minister David Cameron and deputy prime minister
Nick Clegg are scheduled to meet opposition Labour leader Ed
Miliband later today to discuss the issue that has seriously
diminished Murdoch's influence in British politics.
In other developments, Murdoch has been asked to
appear before the Culture, Media Sports committee of the House
of Commons and give evidence in the imbroglio that involves
the press, politicians and the police.
The invitation to appear before the committee has also
been addressed to his son, James Murdoch, and chief executive
of News International, Rabekah Brooks.
New revelations on Tuesday included the dismayed former
prime minister Gordon Brown going on television to state that
Murdoch's News International used criminals and the 'criminal
underworld' to access details about his tax, bank account and
also the health records of his son, Fraser.
Top officials of the Scotland Yard were grilled on
live television today by the Home Affairs Select Committee
chaired by Labour MP, Keith Vaz.
They were closely questioned why earlier police
inquiries on the issue did not look at related evidence, and
prevent the illegal practices.
It was revealed during the session that News
International did not cooperate during the earlier inquiries,
while Sue Akers, the deputy assistance commissioner currently
heading the police inquiry named Operating Weeting, guaranteed
a thorough inquiry into the scandal.
The phone-hacking scandal has thrown open a can of
worms across politics, media and the police with Murdoch's
influence suffering serious knocks.
Brown expressed surprise in an interview to BBC at the
'level of criminality' allegedly indulged in Murdoch's News
International, and said the group had links with the 'known
criminals and the criminal underworld' in Britain.
Brown, whose tax and bank details were allegedly
secured illegally at the behest of Murdoch-owned newspaper
titles, accused The Sunday Times of trying to bring him down
as a government minister.
He said he was "in tears" when he was told by News
International journalists that The Sun had details of his son
Fraser's medical condition (he has cystic fibrosis) because he
had wanted the information to be kept private.
"Sarah and I were incredibly upset about it, we were
thinking about his long term future, we were thinking about
our family," he said.
He said he did not know how the newspaper had got
access to the details, "The fact is, it did appear and it did
appear in the Sun newspaper".
First Published: Wednesday, July 13, 2011, 00:11