Asked if the BSkyB bid was likely to be affected by this week’s revelations around phone hacking, the PMS said that Ofcom has a duty to be satisfied on an ongoing basis, that the holder of a broadcasting licence is ‘fit and proper’. Regarding the process underway to consider the takeover, he pointed out that there was a written ministerial statement issued last week (30/06) from the Secretary of State, Jeremy Hunt setting out the position. He went on to explain that there was an ongoing consultation on certain undertakings and the consultation would end at midday on Friday (6th July) after which, Jeremy Hunt would make a decision.
In answer to further questions around the ‘fit and proper’ test, PMS reminded the assembly that Ofcom was an independent regulator and asked journalists to speak to them for more detail.
Asked if the Prime Minister had spoken to Andy Coulson, Rebekah Brooks or James Murdoch since the allegations, PMS said that he hadn’t.
Asked if the PM felt let down by Andy Coulson, the PMOS said the PM thought Andy Coulson did a good job whilst in government.
In answer to further questions around the reasons Andy Coulson left his job in government and if the PM was aware of various allegations, the PMS said that Andy Coulson resigned from his job in government some time ago, the PM accepted Andy Coulson’s reasons for leaving at the time and any allegations were part of the police investigation.
Asked when an announcement would be made about a public inquiry, the PMS replied that it would take some time. A large police investigation was underway and we wouldn’t want to do anything to jeopardise that. He added that the PM wanted to address this as quickly as possible.
Asked who would be consulted, PMS explained that we would want to consult widely, which would involve talking to party leaders.
Asked if the PM thought people should be subpoenaed and have to provide evidence under oath, the PMS said what was important was that it was an independent process, and a public process and ultimately, one that the public had confidence in. He went on to say, thought was now being given as to how it would be run.
Asked whether the PM was committed to a full independent inquiry, the PMS said that we did not want to jeopardise the police investigation. We needed to think how we set it up, but it was not straightforward.
Put that during the time Andy Coulson worked for government there were suggestions that criminal activity had taken place and now there was evidence of criminal activity, the PMS responded saying that was a judgement for the police and the courts to take.
Asked if, given the wider inquiry, the PM thought this was a problem restricted to one organisation, the PMS said he would not pre-empt the inquiries.
Asked if the PM thought, in view of what had happened in the last 24 hours, it was appropriate to continue to give interviews to the News of the World, the PMS said that all media bids were considered on their merits.
Police Bravery Awards
Asked who the PM would be meeting at the Police Bravery Awards, the PMS said he would check and get back to people.