British hacking inquiry opens with warning to witnesses | Pakistan Today

British hacking inquiry opens with warning to witnesses

A British judge on Thursday opened an inquiry into the phone-hacking scandal that has rocked the country, warning he would use his powers to compel witnesses to give evidence “as soon as possible”. Lord Justice Brian Leveson, the judge appointed by Prime Minister David Cameron to lead the inquiry, said it would start by looking at media ethics and press regulation, with the first public hearings in September.
Cameron ordered the full public inquiry earlier this month into the swirling crisis that shut down the Rupert Murdoch-owned News of the World (NoW) tabloid and dragged in the police, politicians and the premier himself.
“In the first instance, the inquiry will focus primarily on what I am calling the relationship between the press and the public, and the related issue of press regulation,” Leveson said in his opening statement. Sitting at a cramped table alongside the six other panel members at the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre in London, the bespectacled judge said he was entitled to compel witnesses to give evidence on phone-hacking. “I intend to exercise those powers as soon as possible,” he said. Evidence will be given under oath, an inquiry spokesman told AFP.
Leveson said the inquiry would turn to press relationships with the police and politicians later on, he said. He added that it could be difficult to meet Cameron’s 12-month deadline for an initial report. He said his goal was to consider what lessons could be learned and what recommendations should be made for press regulation, governance and oversight. The inquiry would be careful not to conflict with an ongoing police investigation into hacking, Leveson said. Ten people have already been arrested, including the prime minister’s ex-media chief Andy Coulson, a former NoW editor.
But the judge urged editors, journalists and proprietors across Britain’s media industry to flag up “inappropriate practices”, signalling that the probe will range further than the News of the World. “It may be tempting for a number of people to close ranks and suggest that the problem is, or was, local to a group of journalists then operating at the News of the World,” he said.
“But I would encourage all to take a wider view of the public good and help me grapple with the width and depth of the problem.”
CNN host Piers Morgan denies fresh allegations: Former British newspaper editor Piers Morgan, now a presenter for US television network CNN, denied fresh allegations that he printed stories obtained through phone hacking, reports said Thursday. Morgan — a former editor of Rupert Murdoch’s now shuttered News of the World paper and of the rival Daily Mirror tabloid — made his latest denial after British media printed comments that he made in a BBC radio programme in 2009. “I have never hacked a phone, told anyone to hack a phone, nor to my knowledge published any story obtained from the hacking of a phone,” said Morgan’s statement, released late Wednesday and cited by the BBC and other British media. In the programme, “Desert Island Discs”, presenter Kirsty Young asked Morgan how he felt about having to deal with “people who rake through bins for a living, people who tap people’s phones” to get information for tabloids.

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