LibLink: Tim Farron – The phone-hacking stench will linger

Yesterday’s Independent on Sunday featured an op-ed by Liberal Democrat party president, Tim Farron, on the ongoing phone-hacking scandal. Tim makes the point that while both Labour and the Conservatives (Labservatives, anyone?) spent much time and effort ingratiating themselves with News International in all its guises, the Liberal Democrats resisted any such activity.

Here’s a sample:

Labour and the Conservatives spent decades cosying up to Rupert Murdoch and his cronies in the hope of an endorsement or a favourable headline. The Liberal Democrats did not.

What David Cameron, Tony Blair or Gordon Brown knew about the practices of the newspapers they sought to curry favour with, no one knows, but it appears they certainly didn’t waste much energy finding out.

More than that, both David Cameron and Ed Miliband allowed Murdoch newspapermen into their inner circles.

David Cameron hired Andy Coulson and brought him into Number 10, despite apparent warnings of the skeletons in his closet.

Ed Miliband hired ex-News International hack Tom Baldwin just a few months ago. No doubt Baldwin helped him up on to the pedestal he used for his many media appearances this week.

Miliband has admitted that just a couple of weeks ago he went to Murdoch’s summer party, alongside Cameron, and didn’t bring up phone hacking.

I don’t know what Tom Baldwin has done in his past, so I’ll leave the criticism there, but Andy Coulson has many questions to answer – not least to the police – and so does the Prime Minister.

What did Cameron ask Coulson of his background? Did he grill him until he was satisfied or did he ask no questions so that he heard no lies?

One thing’s for sure, Coulson’s employment is a stain on the Government and I’m not happy about it.

We are not all the same, not inside the Government or outside it. Nick Clegg did not beg for the scraps from Murdoch’s table. During the election campaign, former Sun editor David Yelland said ‘One man utterly beyond the tentacles of any of [Murdoch’s] family, his editors or his advisers?is Nick Clegg’.

I am bitterly disappointed that a non-Murdoch newspaper honey trap cost Vince Cable his right to adjudicate over Murdoch’s proposed BSkyB takeover. But the private comments Vince made, that he had ‘declared war on Murdoch’, should make it clear that the Liberal Democrats are far from in his pocket.

Tim’s piece in full can be found here.

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This entry was posted in LibLink.


  • We need to make these points more strongly, we are being totally ignored by the BBC. Get yourself on Newsnight Tim.

  • What David Cameron, Tony Blair or Gordon Brown knew about the practices of the newspapers they sought to curry favour with, no one knows, but it appears they certainly didn’t waste much energy finding out.

    Given the latest revelation about the stealing of the medical records of Gordon Brown’s dying child the paragraph above could do with some revision.

  • @Alex Macph

    You’re right.

    It’s hard not to see Brown as another victim in all this, despite his willingness to/the necessity of sucking up to NI. He was subjected to far more unjustified vitriol than his predecessor (although I don’t doubt that he too had personal info stolen) from many papers.

  • mike cobley 11th Jul '11 - 7:08pm

    quote – “we are being totally ignored by the BBC…”

    Dont worry – when the next disabled claimant dies in awful circumstances after being repeatedly denied ESA payments, then we’ll be front and centre.

  • Keith Browning 11th Jul '11 - 8:56pm

    You know its serious when Lord Fowler is awoken mid afternoon at his London Club and trotted out on Sky News, as the voice or reason and blaming the whole crisis on the previous government.

  • Chris Riley 11th Jul '11 - 9:02pm

    The Guardian is claiming that Brown wanted a judicial enquiry in 2009, but “The civil service says O’Donnell resisted Brown’s idea on the basis that it would be drawing the judiciary into a political process less than a year before a general election.”

  • Dave Hennigan 12th Jul '11 - 11:21am

    Don’t get me wrong, I think that News International has behaved appalling. I have every sympathy with the Dowler Family and any other innocent victim. I am also pleased that any inquiry will not just focus on News International – I cannot believe that other papers stood by and watched the News of the World raking up huge sales on the back of massive scoops to their own circulation’s detriment. Other journalists, say for example at The Mirror, their main competitor must have known something.

    As for Gordon Brown, NI’s treatment of him has been disgusting but I can’t help but be confused by the timings. In 2006, Rebekah Woods was said to have made ‘that call’ to the Brown Family. It was appalling and threatening (by all accounts – ‘You may as well give us the exclusive’ Wade was said to have said.) and according to Brown – he was in tears (perfectly understandable)

    He could have reported the paper the PCC – over the offence but chose not too at the time, he could have also started criminal proceedings to find out where they got the information (Surely a breach of Data Protection at best)

    In 2008, Sarah Brown organises Brooks’ 40th birthday party at Chequers. (Yes, that Chequers, the country residence of the Prime Minister or Gordon Brown’s grace and favour, tax-payer funded country residence) They even attended the Brookes / Wade Wedding in June 2009.


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