Asked what had been discussed, the PMDS (Prime Minister’s Deputy Spokesperson) said they discussed strengthening cooperation on security and crime; commercial opportunities and working together to build more open and exclusive societies.
Asked whether the PM would publish more details about his meeting with Rebekah Brooks and James Murdoch just before Christmas, the PMDS said this was a private engagement and that the PM had responded to a letter from Shadow Culture Secretary, Ivan Lewis, on this subject and he made clear that he had no role to play in the BSkyB bid.
Asked whether the PM had asked the Cabinet Secretary for advice on whether to retrospectively disclose information on meetings between politicians and the media, the PMDS said he had asked the Cabinet Secretary for advice on recording meetings with proprietors, senior editors and executives.
Asked whether the PM was disappointed that James and Rupert Murdoch had declined the chance to give evidence to the DCMS Select Committee, the PMDS said the PM had made his view clear that they should appear but clearly this was a matter for the Select Committee.
Asked what the PM would like to see happen if they failed to turn up next Tuesday, the PMDS said it was not for the PM to comment and there was a process in place. She added that the Leader of the House had made the Government’s position clear in the House and Parliament could only act within the law.
Asked whether the PM welcomed the decision by US Senators to call for an investigation into News Corporation, the PMDS said this was a matter for the US but it came as no surprise.
Asked whether the PM thought it was appropriate for Ministers to have private engagements with newspaper executives, the PMDS said the PM had spoken at length about the need to look again at the relationship between politicians and the press and that was why we had announced an inquiry looking at the ethics of the press and its regulation. She added that the PM had also asked the Cabinet Secretary to look at how the Government could be more transparent about its own meetings with media organisations.
Asked how the PM responded to calls from some of the victims of hacking for an inquiry to be up and running by October, the PMDS said the PM had said he wanted the inquiry up and running as soon as possible.
Asked if we were still in the draft terms of reference stage, the PMDS said yes, others including the Dowler family had expressed helpful views, so we would be publishing revised terms of reference as soon as possible.
Civil Service Bonuses
Asked whether the PM had a view on whether civil servants should continue to receive bonuses, the PMDS said we were committed to making sure that only those civil servants who had performed exceptionally were rewarded and that was why far fewer people would be receiving any sort of performance award. She added that in some cases there were existing contractual arrangements in place.