Miliband risks Murdoch rage with call for phone-hacking inquiry

Murdoch empire has been rocked by arrests at News of the World
Murdoch empire has been rocked by arrests at News of the World

By Ian Dunt

Ed Miliband has risked the ire of the Murdoch media empire with a demand for an inquiry into phone-hacking.

Despite saying that the probe should take place after the police investigation and focus on lessons for the future, the Labour leader's comments are likely to raise the temperature in an already tense situation which has seen several arrests at the News of the World this month.

They also risk worsening the relationship between Labour and News International, which owns the Times, the Sun and the News of the World.

"I think there does need to be a review after the police inquiries have been completed and any criminal cases that flow from it," Mr Miliband told the Guardian.

"I think it is in the interests of protecting the reputation of the British press that these matters should not simply be left to rest, and lessons have to be learned.

"What happened was very bad, and it is right to say that, but there are very good traditions in our press, and they have to be maintained, but we have to get rid of the bad ones, and we have to find a way of doing that."

Mr Miliband said he was not in favour of ending self-regulation of the press but signalled that he shared the widespread dissatisfaction with the conduct of the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) during the row.

"My strong instincts are that we do not want governmental regulation of these issues, but I don't think the Press Complaints Commission has covered itself in glory," he said.

"It is not about government imposing this on the press, but I think the review needs to have some independence, both from government and from those involved in the day-to-day running of newspapers. I think that would help the industry.

"There has to be a sense that the future is not going to be like the past. Wider lessons have to be learned."

The PCC is considered toothless by most observers and its investigation into the allegations of phone-hacking seemed to vindicate the views of those who consider it ineffectual.


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