BROOKS MUST GO! – insists Miliband

Sacked News International print workers marching in Fleet Street with a defiant message during their bitter 1986-87 strike
Sacked News International print workers marching in Fleet Street with a defiant message during their bitter 1986-87 strike

Labour leader Ed Miliband said yesterday ‘it beggars belief’ that News International chief executive ‘Rebekah Brooks is still in her post’ and, ‘The least he (Rupert Murdoch) should do is say that Rebekah Brooks cannot continue.’

News Corp boss Murdoch arrived at News International HQ in Wapping yesterday. Before leaving the US, he gave his ‘total’ backing to Brooks, who was News of the World editor when murder victim Milly Dowler’s phone was hacked.

He told reporters at a media conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, on Saturday: ‘We already apologised.’

Miliband told the Andrew Marr Show yesterday he will force a House of Commons vote to delay any News Corporation takeover of BSkyB, until the investigation into the News of the World phone hacking and corruption scandal is completed.

As the last edition of the Sunday paper appeared with the headline ‘Thank You & Goodbye’, Miliband said that the takeover should be referred to the Competition Commission rather than ‘relying on assurances from News International’.

He said that Cameron had left him no option but to force a vote in the House of Commons during the opposition day debate on Wednesday.

Miliband added that Cameron has to understand that ‘the idea that this organisation, which engaged in these terrible practices, should be allowed to take over BSkyB, to get that 100 per cent stake, without the criminal investigation having been completed and on the basis of assurances from that self-same organisation – frankly that just won’t wash with the public.’

Miliband also said that Cameron ‘must answer the real questions at the heart of this affair, about his error of judgment in hiring Andy Coulson and the mounting evidence there now is about the warnings that were given to him before he brought Coulson into the heart of the government machine.’

The Labour leader was asked: ‘You’ve declared war on Rupert Murdoch, haven’t you?’ Miliband replied: ‘No I haven’t. This is not about a war with one proprietor.’

Meanwhile, Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner John Yates has expressed ‘extreme regret’ for not reopening the phone hacking investigation two years ago.

He will join Sue Akers, the head of the Met’s Operation Weeting into phone hacking, along with other senior officers, before the House of Commons Home Affairs committee tomorrow.

In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, Yates said the News of the World had covered up the ‘industrial scale’ of its phone hacking but admitted that he did not re-examine the 11,000 pages of material recovered from private investigator Mulcaire’s home.

He spent eight hours considering the matter, and consulted the Crown Prosecution Service, but decided there was no likelihood of further convictions.

He said that decision now seemed a ‘pretty crap one’ and the Met Police’s reputation had been ‘very damaged’.

Meanwhile, former Labour home secretary Alan Johnson has said that News International chairman James Murdoch’s admission that he made out of court settlements to victims of phone hacking could leave him vulnerable to prosecution under anti-snooping legislation.

Johnson suggested that the News International chairman could be charged under the Regulation of Investigative Powers Act 2000, which covers the ‘criminal liability of directors’.