The MP who won’t let go: Bryant accuses PM of ‘criminality’
and Charles Maggs Follow @charlesmaggs
David Cameron may have withheld information from the Leveson inquiry to cover up criminal activities, Chris Bryant has claimed.
The Labour MP used a Westminster Hall debate this morning to continue his suggestion that meetings between the prime minister and senior figures at News International had been omitted from evidence submitted to Lord Justice Leveson.
Bryant suggested that there were "discrepancies" between evidence provided to the commission by Cameron and Rebekah Brooks.
He claimed that there was a series of emails and texts sent between Cameron and Brooks which Bryant said he "can only assume" was covering up criminality.
The Labour MP said: "I believe there was a deal before the election between the Conservatives and News International that saw a 16% cut in the BBC's budget and saw the [BBC] World Service included in its remit."
His allegations were dismissed by media minister Ed Vaizey, who endured a series of points of order from Bryant complaining about the terms of the debate.
"The prime minister has made a statement to a judge-led public inquiry, signed a statement of truth and given evidence on oath in which he says he's provided evidence to the inquiry – and yet the honourable gentleman won't accept that's what he's done," Vaizey complained.
He suggested that Labour's former ministers were equally culpable in terms of having cultivated unhealthily close relationships with journalists, adding: "All politicians should look to themselves and their relationship with the press."
The half-hour debate has not moved Bryant's latest offensive against Downing Street over phone-hacking forward. He has warned of a cover-up after it emerged there are around 150 texts and emails between Cameron and News International's former chief executive Rebekah Brooks which have not been released.
Lord Justice Leveson is not publishing the communications because they have not been deemed relevant to the inquiry.
Last month two 2009 text messages leaked to the Mail on Sunday newspaper proved revealing about the close nature of the relationship between Brooks and the Conservative leader.
In one, Brooks texted: "Brilliant speech. I cried twice. Will love 'working together'." A second, from Cameron to Brooks, referred to the Tory leader's brush with a horse owned by Brooks' husband Charlie.
"The horse CB put me on," Cameron texted. "Fast, unpredictable and hard to control but fun. DC."