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MP slams 'immoral' deeds of newspaper.

Byline: Torcuil Crichton

NEWS of the World executives faced the wrath of MPs yesterday as a public inquiry was promised into the phone hacking scandal.

Labour's Chris Bryant told the Commons: "These are not just the amoral actions of some lone private investigator tied to a rogue News of the World.

"They are the immoral and almost certainly criminal deeds of an organisation that was appallingly led and had completely lost sight of any idea of decency or shared humanity."

Labour leader Ed Miliband led the calls for a probe into publishers News International.

He put David Cameron on the rack in a dramatic Prime Minister's Questions and accused him of a "failure of leadership" in the biggest press scandal in modern times.

Deleted There were more sensational claims against the newspaper and chief executive Rebekah Brooks in the emergency Commons debate.

Bryant - himself an alleged victim of phone hacking - said the families of Madeleine McCann and murdered teenager Danielle Jones may also have had their phone messages broken into.

That followed the sensational claim that the phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler had been hacked - with some messages deleted by reporters, fostering hopes that the youngster was still alive.

Relatives of Soham murder victims Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman may also have had their phones hacked.

Yesterday, Bryant called on former News of the World editor Brooks to resign, saying she would if she had "even a shred of decency".

He highlighted the "closeness" between the police and the News of the World, with senior officers being "wined and dined" by executives at the paper, adding: "We know that the News of the World paid police officers for information."

And he said a "very dirty smell" surrounded the police's handling of the original inquiry into phone hacking.

Bryant told MPs: "I think a lot of lies have been told by a lot of people."

With the anniversary of the 7/7 terror attacks today, Bryant said the families of victims were among those targeted.

He added: "In addition, I am told that police are looking at not just Milly Dowler's phone and those of the families of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, but the case of Madeleine McCann and 15-year-old Danielle Jones, who was abducted and murdered in Essex in 2001 by her uncle Stuart Campbell."

He continued: "Scandalously, it also seems that the News of the World targeted some of those police officers who were at various times in charge of the investigation into the News of the World itself. We can only speculate why they would want to do that.

"The private voicemail messages of victims of crime should never, ever have become a commodity to be traded between journalists and private investigators for a cheap story and a quick sale and I know that the vast majority of journalists in this country would agree with that."

He questioned Murdoch's stewardship of his media empire, saying News International had "too great a sway over our national life" and called for the BSkyB takeover deal to be put on hold.

He compared the media mogul to Italian prime minister and media magnate Silvio Berlusconi, saying: "At least Berlusconi lives in Italy - but he [Rupert Murdoch] does not even live in this country."

Labour leader Miliband charged the Prime Minister with a "catastrophic error of judgment" in hiring former News of the World editor Andy Coulson as Downing Street's director of communications.

Yesterday, there were calls for Coulson to face a perjury probe over his testimony at the trial of Tommy Sheridan.

It was confirmed yesterday that emails alleging Coulson authorised illegal payments to police had been passed by his former employers to the Metropolitan Police.

But at former MSP Sheridan's perjury trial in December, Coulson claimed he had "no knowledge" of any payments to police.

Sheridan, who was conducting his own defence, asked Coulson: "Under your editorship at the time, did the News of the World pay corrupt police officers?" Coulson replied: "Not to my knowledge."

Yesterday Sheridan's lawyer Aamer Anwar said: "Mr Coulson gave evidence under oath at the High Court in Glasgow. If he made a mistake, it's a very serious mistake. However, if there is evidence that he lied, then people have gone to jail for less."

And Labour MP Tom Watson said Sheridan may have been wrongly convicted because News International wrongly claimed emails relating to the case had been lost.

Watson told the Commons: "I think the decision to incarcerate Tommy Sheridan was based on information (leading to) an unfounded decision because the jury were not in full possession of the facts."

RECORD VIEW: Page 8 More firms pull out A HOST of major companies have now pulled advertising from the News of the World amid rising anger over the scandal.

The Halifax bank, Virgin Holidays, the Co-operative Group, Vauxhall and Mitsubishi yesterday cancelled deals with the newspaper in the wake of the latest allegations.

Their action followed that of motor giant Ford, who suspended ads yesterday.

And a consumer backlash gathered pace on Twitter with calls for a boycott of the paper.


HACK ATTACK: Chris Bryant
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jul 7, 2011
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