Press release

Number 10 Press Briefing - Morning For 6 July 2011

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

From the Prime Minister's spokesperson on: Phone Hacking and Afghanistan.

Phone Hacking

Asked whether the PM had changed his views on holding a public inquiry since his return, the PMDS said the PM’s position on the allegations remained that it was imperative that the criminal investigation by the police continued and was pursued wherever the evidence took it. Regarding today’s debate, the Government was supportive of the principle that the House should consider the case for an inquiry.

Asked whether the PM had had any contact with Andy Coulson since his departure from Downing Street, the PMDS said he had not.

Asked when the PM had become aware of accusations brought against Andy Coulson, the PMDS said the PM had given his reaction to the allegations against News of the World yesterday and, as usual, he had been kept aware of current events.

Asked whether the PM regretted appointing Andy Coulson, the PMDS referred to the PM’s statement following Andy Coulson’s departure from Downing Street.

Asked whether the PM objected to holding a public inquiry once the police investigation was over, the PMDS said the most important thing was for the police to continue their investigation and the Government was supportive of the principle that the House should consider the case for an inquiry.

Asked whether a Government minister would speak at the debate, the PMDS said the Attorney General would be speaking on behalf of the Government.

Asked whether the PM would support the House if it agreed a public inquiry was necessary, the PMDS said she would not want to pre-empt the outcome of the debate.

Asked whether the Government had received any advice over the possibility of calling a public inquiry while a police investigation was ongoing, the PMDS said she had set out her position on this issue.

Asked what had changed since yesterday when Government frontbench members choose not to endorse a Commons debate, the PMDS said her understanding of the process for S024s was that the Speaker needed a minimum number of supporters and he had received that in the House. She reiterated the Government’s support for this debate.

Asked if the PM had a view on the many developments since his last statement, the PMDS said the PM had been very clear yesterday that he found the allegations to be very shocking and that remained his view.

Asked whether the PM knew Andy Coulson had been involved in authorising payments to the police when he made his statement in January, the PMDS said she had no further comment to make.

Asked whether the PM stood by his statement about Andy Coulson’s departure from Downing Street, the PMDS said he did.

Asked whether the PM believed Rebekah Brooks should remain in her position at News International while the inquiry was ongoing, the PMDS said the PM had not expressed a view on this and the priority remained to let the criminal investigation continue.

Asked whether the PM considered Rebekah Brooks a friend, the PMDS said they had met socially in the past.

Asked if these disclosures would impact on the proposed News International takeover of BSkyB, the PMDS said the PM had stated clearly at his press conference yesterday that he was not involved in the issues around BSkyB. She added that this was a matter for Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, who was acting in a quasi-judicial capacity for the Government.

Asked whether it would be helpful for Rupert Murdoch to put the News International bid on hold, the PMDS said this was a matter for Rupert Murdoch.

Asked whether the PM believed there was a case for a wider inquiry into the freedom of the press, the PMDS said she had made her position clear on this matter.

Asked whether the PM supported the role of the Press Complaints Commission, the PMDS said it was important we had a PCC which worked effectively.

Afghanistan

Asked whether the PM had changed his mind about the number of troops to withdraw from Afghanistan after his recent visit, the PMDS said the PM had not at any stage set out the numbers for the coming year but that was what he would be doing later that day. She added that the timelines announced previously were definitive.