THE TORY government was accused of “capitulating to the press barons” today by once again ruling out the second part of the Leveson inquiry despite fresh allegations of criminal behaviour by the Sunday Times.
Shadow culture secretary Tom Watson raised an urgent question in the House of Commons in response to allegations made by former private investigator John Ford about work he did for the Sunday Times between 1995 and 2010.
Mr Ford claimed in an interview with the Guardian that he broke into then chancellor Gordon Brown’s bank and mortgage accounts and obtained secret polling memos from spin doctor Alastair Campbell’s bins.
The Sunday Times said it “strongly rejects the accusation that it has in the past retained or commissioned any individual to act illegally.”
Mr Brown has called for a police investigation.
Culture Secretary Matt Hancock said the existence of new allegations was “not a reason to reopen decisions that were taken exactly on the basis that the world had changed” as the Leveson inquiry’s terms of reference covered “this type of allegation.”
But Mr Watson accused Mr Hancock of using “the ‘one rogue blagger’ defence,” saying: “The world has not changed.”
He added: “The Secretary of State is capitulating to the press barons who want to use their raw power to close down a national public inquiry.
“I would like to ask him, in light of these new allegations, will he reconsider his decision on the public inquiry into illegality in the press?”
In a statement before the urgent questions was tabled, Mr Watson said: “The only way to reach the truth and achieve justice for victims is for Leveson part II to go ahead. The government must reconsider their position.”
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