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Friday, July 15, 2011

Rewriting history?

This morning's Independent seems very keen to challenge Gordon Brown's version of events regarding his premiership and News International.

They say that former members of Gordon Brown's Cabinet have questioned his claim that he wanted to launch a judicial inquiry into phone-hacking while he was prime minister. Whilst the ex-Prime Minister's claim that his proposal was blocked by the civil service was rejected by Gus O'Donnell, the Cabinet Secretary, who argued that he could have overruled his advice.

As the former prime minister sought to rebuff Tory claims that his government had failed to stand up to Rupert Murdoch's empire, he told MPs on Wednesday that he had tried to launch a public inquiry in February last year. Mr Brown said: "It was opposed by the police, opposed by the Home Office and opposed by the civil service and it was not supported by the [Culture] Select Committee."

Some Labour Cabinet members have a different recollection of events. They claimed the idea of an inquiry was never a formal proposal discussed inside Downing Street or by ministers. "If it was a proposal, it was one by Gordon to himself," one minister said:

Another said the idea never got past first base because a hacking inquiry would have looked like a "revenge attack" on News International after The Sun deserted Labour and switched its support to the Conservatives the previous September.

"It would have backfired on us badly. It would have been seen as nakedly party political on the eve of a general election," the ex-minister said. Former Cabinet members said it was Mr Brown's decision not to pursue the inquiry. "He could have driven it through the machine if he had really wanted it; he was the prime minister after all," one said.

Sir Gus took the unusual step of releasing the memorandum he submitted to Mr Brown last March. In it he concluded it was "doubtful" an investigation was justified under the Inquiries Act 2005 and could have been challenged in a judicial review – especially if it covered the media in general.

A tighter remit covering only the News of the World "could be deemed to be politically motivated" in the run-up to an election, the memo said.

Clearly, there is some rewriting of history going on but it is not possible to say with any certainty who is doing it. A further damaging revelation however, appears in the Wall Street Journal, where Rupert Murdoch singled out former British Prime Minster Gordon Brown, who in recent days claimed his phone and other information had been obtained illicitly by reporters across News International, including not just News of the World but also the Sunday Times:

"He got it entirely wrong," Mr. Murdoch said, adding that "the Browns were always friends of ours" until the company's Sun tabloid withdrew its support for the Labour Party before the last election.

No matter how hard the Labour Party try to put distance between themselves and this scandal, it seems destined to keep coming back to bite them.
Not on topic but...

Dear Peter Black, a very serious issue is/has developed right under your nose: hip replacements in Welsh seniors affected by a dissimilar metal issue - a per se engineering/device design cock-up wherein a form of electrolysis is causing serious health issues. I know of at least one case in Wales with one of these devices making the Welsh senior very ill. Are you aware of this issue? The Welsh Assembly needs to take this matter up with some urgency. If you are not aware of this issue let me know and I will send you more info.
Chris Wood, PhD (Chemistry)
Please send more info but to my e-mail address: peter dot black at wales dot gov dot uk
Thanks very much Peter; I just emailed you. I am very fearful of the awful extra harm that will be avoidably delivered on Welsh seniors. This is an exploding issue which need not explode. This is a dreadful issue that needs all parties to work to reduce its dreadful impact on our beloved Welsh seniors. It is unbelievable that this has happened to them and more will suffer if urgent action is not take to remove the defective hips. Thank you again.
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