Page last updated at 17:07 GMT, Wednesday, 20 July 2011 18:07 UK

Prescott slammed for 'pettiness' over phone hacking

Leader of the House Lord Strathclyde has accused Labour peer Lord Prescott of belittling himself and making "petty political points" about phone hacking.

Lord Strathclyde repeated a Commons statement made by the prime minister on the latest developments in the phone-hacking scandal for peers on 20 July 2011.

Former deputy prime minister Lord Prescott questioned Lord Strathclyde over Prime Minister David Cameron's decision to appoint Andy Coulson as his director of communications.

Lord Prescott claimed he had written to Mr Cameron two years ago to argue that former News of the World editor Mr Coulson, the press adviser to Mr Cameron as leader of the opposition, was not fit to become Downing Street director of communications.

He also claimed Mr Cameron ignored his advice on becoming prime minister in 2010, as well as that of "the police, newspaper editors, the Guardian, the deputy prime minister [Nick Clegg], indeed his own chief of staff".

Lord Prescott accused Mr Cameron of adopting a "hear no evil, see no evil and speak no evil" policy.

While saying peers had "sympathy" with Lord Prescott over the hacking allegations, Lord Strathclyde hit back, noting that the prime minister at the time Lord Prescott wrote the letter was Gordon Brown.

The Leader of the House said that Lord Prescott should have asked Mr Brown "why he had failed to do anything or respond to any of the reports of the select committees, the information commissioner and all those other people who raised these issues".

"I think you belittle yourself by making these rather petty political points," Lord Strathclyde said.

Prime Minister David Cameron announced a public inquiry into the scandal last week.

It will be led by senior judge Lord Justice Leveson and will investigate press ethics and review the first police inquiry on phone hacking, and the extent of wrongdoing in the press and the police.

The inquiry will also have the power to summon witnesses to testify under oath.

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