Clegg urges Murdoch to reconsider BSkyB bid

(Video also available on the BBC website here.)

Nick Clegg met this morning with the family of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, whose voicemails were allegedly accessed by the News of the World. Immediately after this, he told the BBC:

Listening to Bob, Sally and Gemma Dowler, it reminds you that it’s innocent families like them who have paid a very heavy price for truly grotesque journalistic practices which are simply beneath contempt.

So we owe it to the Dowlers, and other innocent victims of hacking, to get these inquiries right, to make sure they’re really strong, that they can get to the bottom of what really happened, and make sure that they never happen again.

When asked what should happen now with Rupert Murdoch’s bid for BSkyB, Clegg urged Murdoch to do “the sensible and decent thing and think again”:

On the BSkyB bid, Rupert Murdoch is now in town, in London, seeking to sort things out. And I would simply say to him, 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.

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  • do the decent and sensible thing, and reconsider…

    Just when we could do with some tough talking we get this…..

    Clegg seems to have fallen for the line that somehow the NOW’s follies all happened a long time ago, and that appealing to Murdoch’s conscience now will bear results. One wonders how much Cameron is leaning on him.

  • Pre-coalition Clegg would be appearing, incandescent with rage, in front of every available news camera and microphone, denouncing any possibility of the bid proceeding. He would have been earnestly followed by Cable, and any number of LibDem MPs. But now we have these tempered, some may say, mealy mouthed words.
    If this is the separate niche that he has carved for himself, then I would suggest he selects some sharper tools from the toolbox, and chisel some more.

  • Kirsten de Keyser 11th Jul '11 - 4:52pm

    Ordinarily I’d probably have agreed with you, never being one for mincing my words.
    But I think you’re being a tad unfair here. The party has already been quite unequivocal in its condemnation of News International and, provided they vote the right way when the time comes, who cares if Nick’s choosing his delivery with a bit more care these days.

  • To be fair Clegg is actually in a very difficult position – as leader of the Lib Dems he may want to go for the jugular but as Deputy PM he can’t be seen to be going ahead of the govt line.

  • I’m not a Nick Clegg fan but to be fair this shows he has more spine than I gave him credit for. It’s quite clear David Cameron opposes his sentiments on this matter but Clegg obviously cares enough, and is strong enough, to express them publicly, even if it is in a mealy mouthed manner.

    I think, however, that it might be a case of too little too late. I also think that it perhaps shows there is no good will left in the coalition internally if Clegg is willing to now go against David Cameron.

  • I have criticised Clegg enough in the past but think he has at least spoken out on this one. A few days earlier with a bit stronger language would have helped but this is at least a (delayed) start……..

  • Don Lawrence 11th Jul '11 - 6:52pm

    It’s hopeless, helpless and hapless. How anyone could consider this to be anything more than mealy mouthed astonishes me.

  • Calling it mealy-mouthed is very unfair because this isn’t just a ‘political judgment’ issue, it’s a legal one. If Clegg, as DPM, says unequivocally that the BSkyB bid should fail that could potentially open the government up to a lawsuit on the grounds that government ministers haven’t followed due process.

    I doubt the British public would look kindly on it if the taxpayer had to fork out for compensation to News Corp just because Clegg was careless with his phrasing…

    It’s the same reason why Cable had to give up the adjudication power – however right he was and however much I applaud his sentiments (I stand second to none in my contempt for Murdoch), when you’re a government minister – of any party – there are certain things you can’t say out loud.

  • @Catharine
    I think it would depend on whether he has any direct bearing on the outcome. As he is not acting in a quasi judicial role I would suspect he has considerable freedom to let rip a bit more..

    That said though at least it is criticism, although it was directly in line with Cameron and I would rather see some clear water between them on this.

  • ITV poll tonight showed that 25% trust Cameron to clear up the mess, 8% trust NC & 12%[?] trust Miliband. About 55% do not trust anyone – including the police!

  • John Roffey 12th Jul '11 - 5:16am

    Hardly surprising that NC resembles a ‘dead sheep’ – he is worn out!

    I suppose Mrs Clegg’s career is important – but more important than the future of so many people in the UK?

    One for the ‘equal rights’ enthusiasts to decide.

  • I think Nick Clegg should urged Murdoch to, ““do the sensible and decent thing” and WITHDRAW FROM THE BID – as far as the Government is concerned, the deal is OFF because the NoW has not abided by the common laws of decency and have not followed due process”! What News Corps and NoW have done is, quite frankly, obscene! Rebekah Brooks should be sacked for starters and Murdoch consigned to dealing with people outwith the UK – no self-respecting UK businessman/woman should have anything more to do with him and his minions with their dirty tricks.

    I feel sorry for his honest members of staff who are innocent in all this – they should have our sympathy.

    Far from doing what David Cameron wants him to do, he should have said to DC – “I think you are wrong and my Party members think you are wrong – block the BSkyB deal!”

    How much longer are we going to see NC taking all the brick-bats and being the fall guy? How much longer do we have to see our Party disintegrating because he is not standing up for the Party against David Cameron? Nick & Vince are, effectively, being muzzled and I object to that – this is not government by coalition it is government by dictatorship on the part of the Tories!

    We have a Conservative Government with the Lib Dems rubber-stamping everything HE wants! I’m angry! This is one time when NC should have spoken out strongly and harshly!

    Sorry – but we are looking more and more ineffective by the day!

  • That should have read “I think Nick Clegg should have urged Murdoch” –

  • Alex Macfie 12th Jul '11 - 1:28pm

    I do not understand those people who seem to think that the Lib Dem government ministers should continue to behave exactly as if they were still in opposition, by openly attacking members of their own government. @Rebekah, you should ask yourself whether a Tory government spokesman in a Tory-only government would be anything like this critical of Murdoch, and whether the BSkyB deal would have been referred to the Competition Commission. I suspect the answer is “no” to both. NC has made mistakes in the past in appearing to be too close to the Tories, but here it is clear that the Lib Dems not only have moved the government position, but also that the party is finding its own distinctive voice.

  • Is it only NEWS Corp. corrupted or the entire media groups are highly contaminated, corrupted and unbalanced?
    In the last decade, the large industrialists with single aim of making money and imposing their one-sided, polluted and corrupt opinion on the politicians and public has down graded the value and reputation of the press and T.V. media. The rightists lobbies with loyalty to other country with religious bias has played high role. Morality, fairness, honesty and justice in many issues have been very badly compromised. America has imposed wars on innocents not for good reasons but for OIL alone. Looks like, time has come to place limited censorship on such corrupted media to make it fair, just and balanced.

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