Published on 6 Jul 2011 Sections , ,

LIVE BLOG: MPs debate News of the World ‘hackgate’

Rupert Murdoch is standing by Rebekah Brooks as calls grow for her to resign from News International because of the phone hacking scandal. Add your voice to the live blog.

LIVE BLOG: News of the World phone hacking allegations - emergency debate.

Police confirm to Channel 4 News Rebekah Brooks did meet police in 2002

News Corp chief Rupert Murdoch stands by Brooks as MPs call for her resignation

MP Tom Watson says ‘News International had entered the criminal underworld’

17.00: Police confirm to Channel 4 News that Rebekah Brooks met with officers in 2002, when she was News of the World editor, to discuss claims a Metropolitan Police detective was put under surveillance by journalists from her newspaper.

16.30: Labour former home secretary Alan Johnson is supporting the phone hacking inquiry, even though he acknowledged it could be “awkward” for him personally. He said police were “evasive”, “dishonest” or “lethargic” in not pursuing the original investigation.

Rebekah Brooks. (Getty)

16.20: Rupert Murdoch, Chairman and Chief Executive of News Corporation, comes out in defence of Rebekah Brooks. In a statement he said: “Recent allegations of phone hacking and making payments to police with respect to the News of the World are deplorable and unacceptable. I have made clear that our company must fully and proactively cooperate with the police in all investigations and that is exactly what News International has been doing and will continue to do under Rebekah Brooks’ leadership.”

(Pictured – Rebekah Brooks leaves NoW headquarters)

16.10: Paul Farrelly, MP for Newcastle-under-Lyme, clutching old copies of the News of the World, attacks “cynicism” and “double standards” at the newspaper.

He adds: “After the latest revelations there has been talk of a ‘tipping point’ for the press.

“But we’ve been at tipping points many points before – with the McCann family – and nothing has changed.

“Above all for the better of decent journalism in this country, newspaper proprietors – and not just Rupert Murdoch – must look themselves in the mirror and ask ‘do I like what I see and do I care to change it?'”

We know now that News International had entered the criminal underworld. Tom Watson MP

15.50: Zac Goldsmith, Conservative MP for Richmond, adds his voice to the debate, agreeing with Labour rivals that a government decision on the BSkyB takeover deal should be put on hold. attacking “sloppy initial investigation by police”.

He added: “As MPs we depend on the media, we need to be liked by the media.

“Parliament has behaved with extraordinary cowardice over the years. we have collectively turned a blind eye.”

Mr Goldsmith also said that Rupert Murdoch is a “genius businessman” but his organisation has “grown too powerful”.

More from Channel 4 News: Commons clash as BSkyB deal moves closer

15.20: Tom Watson, the Labour MP who has led the campaign to expose wrongdoing, says it is “simply unbelievable” that Rebekah Brooks did not know about the culture of phone hacking.

“News International was paying people to interfere with police officers and were doing so on behalf of known criminals.

“We know now that News International had entered the criminal underworld.”

On Rebekah Brooks, Mr Watson said: “She cannot deny being present at a meeting, when the actions of people she was paying were exposed.

“She cannot deny being warned that under her auspices unlawful tactics were being used. She cannot deny either that she was told by police that her own paper was using unlawful tactics.”

Statement from News International Ltd:
We welcome today's cross-party calls for a broad public inquiry into standards and practices in the industry.
In the meantime we have already been taking the following practical steps, some already announced by Chief Executive Rebekah Brooks, to co-operate fully with the police and institute what we hope will become an industry-leading governance, compliance and standards structure at the News of the World, and NI as a whole.

15.05: John Whittingdale, Chair of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee: “We need to know if these allegations are true. If they are, who commissioned these phone hacks and who else knew about it?

“There is a swirl of rumour around this, about who may or may not have been hacked. There are also rumours about other newspapers.

“I have to say that I suspect that in the same way that Clive Goodman was not a rogue reporter, the News of the World was not a rogue newspaper.

“We need to get to the full facts.”

Advertisers pull plug on News of the World:
More firms are deciding not to advertise in the News of the World, or to suspend advertising, because of phone hacking allegations. So far on the list: Ford, Easyjet, Halifax (Lloyds Banking Group), Marks & Spencer, McDonald's, NPower, Renault, J Sainsbury, Royal Bank of Scotland, T-Mobile-UK, Tesco, TUI Travel and Vauxhall.

15.00: Yvette Cooper: “We must make sure this never happens again”.

14.40: Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper describes the “shockwaves” caused by “deeply disturbing” phone hacking revelations in recent days, referring to the cases of murder victims Milly Dowler, Sarah Payne and Soham schoolgirls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman. It is alleged phones belonging to their families may have been hacked by the News of the World.

Ms Cooper said: “The very idea of targeting victims and their families in their darkest hour is shameful, sickening and cruel.”

14.30: Attorney-General Dominic Grieve says he is “satisfied” that David Cameron and the government have dealt with latest phone hack revelations properly. He added that Operation Weeting (a team of 45 officers investigating phone hack allegations) must be allowed to progress without ministers “making pronouncements”.

14.10: News International welcomes MPs’ calls for a wide-ranging public inquiry into standards in the media industry to address concerns about the phone hacking scandal.

14.05: Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson said News International had given Scotland Yard documents which include information relating to “inappropriate payments to officers”.

14.00: Chris Bryant concludes, telling MPs: “I hope the British media will rediscover its true vocation – to bring the truth to light – truthfully, honestly and legally.”

What hangs around is a very dirty smell. Chris Bryant MP

13.45: Labour MP Chris Bryant kicks off the emergency debate on illegal phone hacking as the scandal engulfs the News of the World and Rupert Murdoch‘s media empire News International. He tells MPs the company’s chief executive Rebekah Brooks (a former editor at the News of the World) must “resign now”, adding that “what hangs around is a very dirty smell”.

He said: “News International claimed that they had run a full internal investigation. It is now clear they hid the truth. The police claim they had notified all the victims, now we know that not all the victims were contacted. If you’ve misled parliament, you should resign…”

‘Absolutely disgusting’ – Cameron

David Cameron has backed calls for an inquiry into the “absolutely disgusting” use of phone hacking at the News of the World.

“We do need to have an inquiry, possibly inquiries, into what has happened,” Mr Cameron told MPs at Prime Minister’s Questions.

Latest from Channel 4 News: Cameron wants phone hacking inquiry

“We are no longer talking here about politicians and celebrities, we are talking about murder victims, potentially terrorist victims, having their phones hacked into.

This is the biggest press scandal in modern times. Ed Miliband

“It is absolutely disgusting, what has taken place, and I think everyone in this House and indeed this country will be revolted by what they have heard and what they have seen on their television screens.”

Labour leader Ed Miliband said this is the “biggest press scandal in modern times” and attacked Mr Cameron for faling to show leadership on the issue.

He added that the police inquiry may take “some years” and insisted it was “possible to start the process now”. He called for the appointment of a senior figure to lead the inquiry.

Politicians and the press: a dangerous moment?
Will this government really use this moment to force something on newspapers they don't want? That is not exactly how David Cameron (or Gordon Brown or Tony Blair before him) have conducted their relationship with the big newspaper groups until now...
More analysis from Channel 4 News Political Editor Gary Gibbon
Snowblog: Is there a conspiracy anywhere within the hacking scandal?
I believe there are three themes in play. Political compromise, police incompetence, and journalistic "team work".
More from Jon Snow on the hacking scandal

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