Lib Dems fire salvo against Murdoch

By Ian Dunt

Three of the most senior members of the Liberal Democrats have demanded that Rupert Murdoch end his BSkyB bid.

In a letter to the media mogul, deputy leader Simon Hughes, president Tim Farron and media spokesman Don Foster say illegal activities were not limited to the News of the World and took place in his other news outlets as well.

The letter comes as MPs prepare to vote against the deal in the Commons today. The Labour motion, which is backed by the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, has no legal implications but it will increase the pressure on the News Corp owner.

Recent allegations about Mr Murdoch's company have "shocked and sickened the British public", the letter reads.

It goes on: "People working for your company have sought to cover up the many wrongs which it has committed. Your company has been accused of lying to the Press Complaints Commission by its chair. Only yesterday the police accused News International of trying to undermine the ongoing police investigation into the affair.

"News International is simply no longer respected in this country. Given the history of the last six or more years, it should be of little surprise to you that many people in this country have no desire to have any more of our media fall into your hands, tainted as News International is by a history of completely unacceptable journalistic practices.

"We therefore ask, both on behalf of our party but also on behalf of a very large number of people in this country, that you now withdraw your News Corp bid for BSkyB and concentrate all of your efforts on cleaning up News International."

Next week, Rupert Murdoch will face MPs on the culture, media and sport committee together with his son James and embattled News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks.