Monday, 11 June 2012

George Osborne at The Leveson Inquiry

 Today George Osborne had his chance to set the record straight on his alleged role in masterminding the Cameron/Murdoch relationship before the 2010 elections. Given his reported key role in hiring of Andy Coulson, former editor of the News of the World, as communications director for the Tory party as well as private meetings with James Murdoch, this testimony had been much anticipated. Following swiftly from Gordon Brown's account of the time line of events and his negation of some of Murdoch's and Brook's testimony, it was interesting to have on record his version of events. The general allegation by Labour and by Brown earlier was that the BSkyB deal was the prize for Murdoch in exchange for the News of the world supporting the Conservatives in the elections. George Osborne refuted this. Saying that he and David Cameron had had problems engaging with Rupert Murdoch about domestic politics in the famous Davos meeting. Furthermore he described the time line of events which saw Cable resign and Hunt taking charge of the BSkyB bid as not premeditated. Though Jeremy Hunt had expressed enthusiasm for the bid both privately and publicly, subject to legal advice, the cabinet felt they had no other option other than to pass the quasi-judicial role onto him as the department for culture media and sport was the obvious default  choice. This, Osborne claimed, was the reason for the now notorious text 'I hope you like the solution' to Jeremy Hunt.
 Osborne claimed that he had asked Coulson if there was more to the phone hacking incident which had led him to resign from the paper other than the rogue reporters which were being investigated.
Coulson had categorically denied this paving the way for him to step in as Tory chief election strategist. Osborne further asked Rebecca Brook's professional opinion on the appointment. This has set the stage perfectly for Cameron's testimony to explain how someone as smeared and soiled by the Murdoch mire could have formed such an integral part of their party apparatus.