Coulson and Brooks “must have known” of phone hacking claim prosecution

telegraphhacking“Former News of the World editors Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson must have known about phone hacking at their newspaper, the Old Bailey has heard. Andrew Edis QC said the prosecution would be able to show there had been phone hacking at the now-closed paper. Mrs Brooks and Mr Coulson – among eight on trial – deny charges including conspiracy to intercept communications.” – BBC

  • “Members of the Royal family, celebrities and Cabinet ministers were targeted by phone hackers and corrupt public officials were bribed during a 10-year conspiracy at tabloid newspapers overseen by Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, the Old Bailey heard.” – Daily Telegraph

Royal Charter to regulate press is approved

“A secretive committee of four ministers yesterday approved a Royal Charter to regulate the Press, provoking claims that politicians are undermining 300 years of freedom of speech. The Privy Council, which advises the Queen, rubber-stamped the plans after newspapers lost two last ditch legal bids to halt the process.” – Daily Mail

  • “A secretive body of ministers took their Royal Charter to Buckingham Palace to have it signed by the Queen — sounding the death knell for 300 years of Press freedom. The charter allows a “recognition panel” to oversee a new watchdog that, crucially, can be amended only by Parliament.” – The Sun
  • “A press free from political ­interference is a precious inheritance. It cannot be compromised by the injudicious use of a medieval instrument that nobody wants.” Leader The Times (£)
  • “As Winston Churchill, who would have been shocked by yesterday’s antics, famously put: “A free press is the unsleeping guardian of every other right that free men prize; it is the most dangerous foe of tyranny… where free institutions are indigenous to the soil and men have the habit of liberty, the press will continue to be the Fourth Estate, the vigilant guardian of the rights of the ordinary citizen.” – Allister Heath City AM

Tories lose 1 in 8 of rural voters to UKIP..

“The Conservatives are haemorrhaging one in eight of their strongest supporters om the shires to Ukip. An astonishing poll showed that support for the Tories had dropped by 20 per cent among the Countryside Alliance. Its members are usually among the most committed Tory campaigners, with 15,000 of its supporters leafleting for the party at the last election.” – Daily Mail

…as Tim Montgomerie says Cameron must make peace with the Right

“Conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic need more peacemakers within their ranks. People who won’t demonise their opponents, but will work to ensure the best modernising and traditionalist ideas are blended together. Mr Cameron may hate the idea that he needs the votes of the Eurosceptic Right and even of UKIP, but he does. But he can’t hope to heal the Right without first showing them and their ideas some respect.” – Tim Montgomerie The Times (£)

Howell says the Commonwealth is treated with contempt

howell“The Foreign Office “kowtows” to the US and “cringes” within the European Union while ignoring the rest of the world including Britain’s Commonwealth allies, a former minister has said. Lord Howell of Guildford, a Conservative peer who was sacked as a Foreign Office minister last year, makes the criticism on a book on foreign policy to be published next week.” – Daily Telegraph

  • “What of Lord Howell, the minister for the Commonwealth? He was curtly disposed of in last year’s autumn reshuffle, in a phone call from his son-in-law George Osborne (the Chancellor is married to Frances, Lord Howell’s daughter). His replacement, Hugo Swire, does his best, but his main responsibilities are, perversely, in the Far East, where there are relatively few Commonwealth countries. Effectively the post has been abolished.” – Peter Oborne Daily Telegraph

Review into energy market competition

“Energy Secretary Ed Davey is expected to unveil more details of a proposed review of competition in the energy market in a Commons statement later. Prime Minister David Cameron told MPs on Wednesday: “We want a competition inquiry that starts straight away.” – BBC

  • “THE Big Six energy firms will be forced to make switching easier, so consumers can switch in just a day instead of the current FIVE WEEKS. UK consumers should benefit from “24-hour switching”, the Energy Secretary, Ed Davey, will confirm today.” – The Sun

MPs to vote on HS2 spending…

“MPs will vote later on whether to let the government start spending money on preparations for the HS2 rail project. Money released by the vote would pay for surveys, buying property and compensating evicted residents.” – BBC

  • “In his strongest attack on Mr Miliband over the high speed line the prime minister accused Labour of “flip flopping” and suggested they are putting the project at risk. The criticism comes as concerns grow that Labour could be prepared to withdraw support for the £50billion high-speed rail line amid concerns over spiralling costs.” – Daily Telegraph
  • Ann Treneman says David Cameron gets too angry at PMQs – The Times (£)

>Today: Tory Diary: The problem with HS2

>Yesterday: Andrew Gimson’s sketch of PMQs

 …as Clegg says he would make backing for HS2 a “red line” in coalition talks with Labour

“The Liberal Democrats would refuse to form a coalition with Labour after the next election if Ed Miliband does not support the HS2 rail line, Nick Clegg has said. The Lib Dem leader said he would not compromise over the construction of the line in any future negotiations.” – The Times (£)

IDS faces judicial review on “back to work” scheme

IDS headshot“The Government is facing a legal challenge over new legislation for “back to work” schemes, which it is accused of rushing through Parliament. Phil Shiner, the head of Public Interest Lawyers, said it would bring judicial review proceedings after the Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, lost an appeal at the Supreme Court against a ruling that earlier regulations underpinning the schemes were invalid.” – The Independent

  • Work should pay and workfare should as well – Ross Clark The Times (£)

Cameron to publish shell companies list to discourage tax evasion

“A list of “shell” companies where firms keep money offshore will be published to discourage tax evasion, David Cameron will announce
later.” – BBC

Drive to increase NHS transparency

“The government is to collect data on the performance of doctors in 10 new areas of medicine and will ask patients whether or not they think
treatment actually improved their health, as part of a drive for transparency in the NHS.” – The Guardian

  • “Too many patients are being admitted to hospitals via A&E departments when they might be better treated elsewhere, the public spending watchdog said on Thursday – hours after the government announced A&E services were to end at two London hospitals with cuts possible at two others.” – The Guardian

Gove trounces Tristram Hunt

“To borrow from boxing, it was like watching a promising new Great White Hope having his first try-out against a weathered prize-fighter. A shameless Michael Gove showed off to the crowd, used lots of fancy footwork and hit his opponent more than once below the belt. He secured a clear win on points.” -Donald Macintyre The Independent

Union bullying of Grangemouth directors exposed

Mailbullies“The full extent of the Unite union’s campaign of bullying and intimidation against senior managers during the bitter Grangemouth oil refinery dispute is revealed today. In a disturbing echo of the union militancy of the 1970s and 80s, Unite leaders deployed a dirty tricks squad to personally target and humiliate executives of the Ineos chemical company and their families. The sinister unit – known as the ‘Leverage team’ – sent mobs of protesters to the homes of senior figures in the firm.” – Daily Mail

Labour use taxpayers money to rent union offices

“Two Labour frontbenchers use taxpayers’ money to rent constituency offices from unions that have made donations to their local parties. Owen Smith, Shadow Secretary for Wales, and Luciana Berger, Shadow Minister for Public Health, are among Labour MPs who claim parliamentary expenses for renting office accommodation from unions.” – The Times (£)

Raab says surveillance powers have increased too much

“UK surveillance over its own people increased exponentially under the last government. Yet oversight and accountability has frayed, and legitimate debate is being drowned out by untested assertions of national security.” – City AM

 Daily Express launches campaign to restrict EU immigration

“Labour did not even implement the transitional controls allowed under EU law. That was a reckless and unforgivable decision. Inevitably the vast migrant inflow put great pressure on many aspects of life from housing to school places, hospitals, welfare and community cohesion. Yet instead of learning its lesson the political class proposes to make the same mistake all over again.” – Daily Express

News in Brief


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