Saturday 24 February 2018

Parties unite in Commons to attack Murdoch's BSkyB bid

Andrew Grice and Stephen Foley in London

ALL three main political parties in Britain will today unite against the man they have spent decades wooing in an unprecedented attack on Rupert Murdoch and his business empire.

The party leaders will order their MPs to vote for a motion calling for Mr Murdoch to abandon his takeover bid for BSkyB due to the hacking scandal.

The show of unity came after a dramatic intervention by David Cameron.

He made the decision after realising that he could end up losing the House of Commons vote, in the face of opposition from Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

The motion -- now certain to be passed by an overwhelming majority -- significantly increases the pressure on News Corp to abandon its bid for BSkyB entirely, amid growing allegations of widespread corporate misgovernance at its UK subsidiary News International.


BSkyB shares fell a further 3pc as the City concluded that the weight of public opinion now makes a deal almost impossible.

In a day of developments:

•Two of the most senior policemen in Britain accused News International of lying and prevaricating in the original police investigation.

•Scotland Yard admitted it had so far notified only 170 of the 4,000 suspected victims of phone hacking named in Glenn Mulcaire's files.

•A Commons committee called for Rupert and James Murdoch to come in person to Parliament next Tuesday, alongside Rebekah Brooks, to be questioned on the scandal by MPs.

•David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg met in private to discuss the terms of reference of a public inquiry.

Ministers said tonight's Commons vote would not be legally binding because it was directed at Rupert Murdoch rather than the government. But, privately, ministers said the takeover would be "politically dead".

One government insider said the only way News Corp could possibly buy 100pc of BSkyB after tonight's vote would be to sell off his three remaining NI papers -- 'The Sun', 'The Times' and 'The Sunday Times'.

"That would be a game-changer," he said.

However, there were signs yesterday that News Corp's problems in the UK are not going away any time soon and the latest round of allegations could affect other parts of the business.

Yesterday, in evidence to MPs, two senior police officers accused the company of deliberately covering up evidence of widespread phone hacking.

At the time News International was being run by Les Hinton -- a confidant of Mr Murdoch for decades, who now runs Dow Jones in US.

He is likely to be compelled to give evidence at the public inquiry about whether he authorised the misleading evidence to police officers that was given by the company.

Chariman and chief executive of NewsCorp, James Murdoch, will also face questions about what he knew when he authorised secret payments to phone-hacking victims when he was at the helm of News International.

He is also on the board of News Corp in the US and could face corporate investigations on both sides of the Atlantic. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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