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Archive for July 23rd, 2011

Two stories have caught my eye overnight…both from The Telegraph…

George Osborne had dinner with Rupert Murdoch two weeks before BSkyB bid decision

The Telegraph: The Chancellor, George Osborne, flew to New York and had dinner with Rupert Murdoch two weeks before the media regulator was due to decide on whether to approve his takeover of BSkyB.

AND… this.. rather more important one…

Phone hacking inquiry judge attended parties at home of Rupert Murdoch’s son-in-law

The Telegraph: The judge in charge of the phone hacking inquiry has attended parties at the home of Rupert Murdoch’s son-in-law.

Lord Leveson’s office insisted that David Cameron had been informed of the judge’s attendance at the parties and had not raised any objections.

Lord Leveson’s office continued: “Lord Justice Leveson was not involved in that meeting and he has neither met nor spoken to anyone from Freud Communications since January 2011.

“There is, in any event, no continuing relationship. Prior to his appointment to the inquiry, Lord Justice Leveson ensured that these matters were brought to the attention of the Prime Minister.”

Twenty years ago I was involved in a contract dispute.  I won.  The first High Court judge to try the issue had to recuse himself (stand down).  The plaintiffs objected on the grounds that I had had a drink with the judge when he was a QC.  The judge had no problem with this.  Nor did I.

In the present climate – I am surprised that the Prime Minister, aware of the minor connection between Lord Justice Leveson and the Murdochs as reported in The Telegraph – thought it fitting that Leveson LJ should head the inquiry.  I am sure that Leveson LJ would be impartial.  He is highly regarded.  But on this very complex and emotive issue of #Hackgate – it is surprising (a) that this story was not announced at the time Leveson LJ was appointed and, frankly, (b) that Leveson LJ was appointed, and (c) accepted the appointment.

My view on this may not find favour in some circles…. but I do feel, strongly, that Leveson LJ – assuming The Telegraph story is accurate in all respects – should stand down.  There must be other judges with no connections to the Murdochs or their empire, who could do just as good a job?

Chris Bryant MP has objected. I think we should also object...strongly.

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