British inquiry will probe links of press, politicians: PM

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British Prime Minister David Cameron said Wednesday a judge-led inquiry into phone hacking at Rupert Murdoch's papers will look at the relationship between politicians and the press.

Facing pressure over his own former media chief who was a one-time editor of Murdoch's News of the World, Cameron also backed an opposition motion urging Murdoch to drop his bid for satellite broadcaster BSkyB.

Giving details for the first time since he announced the inquiry last week, he said it would cover "the culture, practices and ethics of the press, their relationship with the police, the failure of the current system of regulation."

It would also cover "the contacts made, and discussions had, between national newspapers and politicians, why previous warnings about press misconduct were not heeded, and the issue of cross-media ownership," he told lawmakers.

Cameron said the inquiry, led by Lord Justice Brian Leveson, would have the power to summon "newspaper reporters, management, proprietors, policemen and politicians of all parties to give evidence under oath and in public."

The inquiry would report in one year, he said.

During a fiery session of prime minister's questions in the House of Commons, Cameron also confirmed that he would back a non-binding motion by opposition Labour party leader Ed Miliband against Murdoch's BSkyB bid.

"I think it's good that the House of Commons will speak with one voice," Cameron said, in a rare example of Britain's main parties uniting and a symbol of the growing momentum against Murdoch's influential papers.

Murdoch shut down the News of the World tabloid last week amid spiralling allegations that it had hacked the phones of a murdered girl, and the families of dead soldiers and victims of terror attacks.

Cameron said that anyone involved in the scandal should be barred from British media ownership.

"The people involved, whether they were directly responsible for the wrongdoing, sanctioned it, or covered it up however high or low they go, must not only be brought to justice, they must also have no future role in the running of a media company in our country," he said.

© 2011 AFP

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