And so it came to pass that Karen Bradley, an MP manifestly unsuited to any ministry, let alone the one dealing with the press establishment, came to the Commons today to make a statement on press regulation. Given that her only Special Advisor, Craig Woodhouse, arrived straight from the Sun, where he was senior political correspondent, the content of her statement was all too predictable. The Guardian had the story.
Karen Bradley - merely a Murdoch add-on
“In a statement to the Commons, Karen Bradley [stated] that the government is to launch a consultation on two remaining issues: costs provisions for victims and Leveson ‘part two’ into police corruption. The latter had been delayed by continuing criminal actions over the phone-hacking scandal involving News International which prompted the Leveson inquiry in 2011”. The “cost provisions” item is Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013.
There was more. “Speaking in parliament, Bradley said the extent of those criminal investigations, and the implementation of recommendations in part one of the report, as well as the costs of the latter of nearly £50m, meant the government was reconsidering whether to undertake part two”. The consultation will take ten weeks.
For Labour, Tom Watson “said it was a ‘sad day’, coming almost three years after cross-party agreement was reached on the Leveson recommendations … ‘In effect, she is today announcing whether a cover-up should be covered up. Events in the last five years make Leveson part two more urgent, not less’”. Got it in one.
Ms Bradley offered the pretence that we should “Look over there” at the Hillsborough verdicts, thus completing a spectacular team logic gymnastics display which had been started by her colleague Amber Rudd pretending that Hillsborough really had nothing to do with anything else, honestly, and definitely not Orgreave.
But enough of this driving it around the houses. We already had a consultation - it was called Part 1 of the Leveson Inquiry. If Karen Bradley wants to see the nature of this particular beast, she need look no further than the report published in the aftermath of that Inquiry. Consulting all interested parties will not deliver her a better analysis.
The Government’s own Press Recognition Panel has recommended that Section 40 be commenced, now that a recognised press regulator, IMPRESS, is in place. There has already been extensive consultation in the run-up to IMPRESS gaining recognition. All those interested parties have already had their say.
As she will now know from the questions following her statement, the Tories would not win, should any measure on press regulation be put to a vote. That suggests that her consultation is no more than an effort to kick the ball into the longest available grass in order to wear down opposition in the hope that it gives up and goes away.
As Evan Harris of Hacked Off has said, “Today’s announcement of a further consultation from the Secretary of State is a disgraceful attempt to force [victims of press intrusion and misbehaviour] to go through that all over again … This ‘consultation’ is no more than an attempt by the Government to re-run the Leveson Inquiry, but with a conflicted Government Minister replacing an independent Judge. That is the last way decisions over press regulation should be taken”. And he had harsh words on Leveson 2.
“The postponement and potential cancellation of Part 2 of the Leveson Inquiry is an outrageous betrayal of promises made to victims of press abuse and to the British people by … former Prime Ministers … promises [that] were made under oath at a public inquiry and to Parliament in the Cross-Party Agreement”.
I’ll go further: the Hillsborough Independent Panel and subsequent new inquests have given us a flavour, as it were, of collusion between press and Police. Any Inquiry into the Orgreave confrontation would doubtless expose more of the same. And then there is the Daniel Morgan murder, and yet more collusion between unscrupulous journalists and bent coppers. Leveson 2 is needed to expose that, and ensure it does not reoccur.
The idea that any Government would begrudge £50 million for Leveson 2 - when it is needlessly spending millions on a consultation which is no more than a device for delaying decisions in order to placate the press establishment - is laughable.
Karen Bradley’s decision, her performance in the Commons today, and her litany of excuses, show the world that she is not fit to hold ministerial office. Worse, she is, as I’ve said previously, being manipulated by Woodhouse, and through him by the Murdoch mafiosi and the greater part of the press establishment.
I have met, and talked with, many victims of press misbehaviour, and can tell Karen Bradley that not one of those people is going to walk away merely because she has deployed this latest delaying tactic. The Government of which she is a member has already betrayed the Orgreave campaigners. And they, too, are going nowhere.
Karen Bradley is no more than a Murdoch patsy. And that’s not good enough.