Page last updated at 13:06 GMT, Thursday, 16 June 2011 14:06 UK

Call for a full independent inquiry into phone hacking

Tory ex-cabinet minister Lord Fowler, a former journalist and newspaper director, has described phone hacking as a "massive conspiracy against the public" and called for a full independent inquiry.

At question time in the House of Lords on 16 June 2011 the former chairman of the Lords communications committee said: "There was a time when there was an attempt to write off phone hacking as the work of one rogue reporter.

"In the last two weeks alone, News Corporation has paid out damages of £100,000 to the actress Sienna Miller and admitted misuse of private information, breach of confidence and harassment.

"News International has set up what they call a £50m compensation fund for the victims of phone hacking and evidence has emerged that the News of the World is not the only newspaper involved.

"Do you agree that all this represents a massive conspiracy against the public that the Press Complaints Commission has been powerless to prevent?"

He asked Baroness Rawlings, government spokesperson for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport: "Will you give an assurance that once the criminal proceedings are complete the government will set up an independent inquiry to find out where responsibility lies?"

Baroness Rawlings said various investigations were currently under way and setting up another one would "risk harming" the criminal inquiries.

"We shall in the circumstances monitor all the results and consider whether any further action will be necessary," she said.

Baroness Rawlings said that "constant monitoring is essential in case further action is needed".

Other topics raised during questions were a timetable for recognising the Armenian genocide, a United Nations Humanitarian Affairs report on civilians in East Jerusalem and the US Defence Secretary Robert Gates's speech on the future of NATO.


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