It’s a busy day in London as former News International CEO Rebekah Brooks appeared in court for the first time and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is giving evidence to the Leveson Inquiry — the hearings hatched in response to the phone-hacking scandal at News Corp’s News International. Clegg is also testifying as Parliament is due to vote on whether Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt should face an independent investigation over his handling of News Corp’s bid for BSkyB.
Government sources have told UK media that Clegg, who is the Liberal Democrat leader, has instructed his MPs to abstain from the vote. The move drives a wedge into Britain’s Coalition government. Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron has refused to open an investigation into Hunt’s conduct while Clegg has pressed for a formal probe since Hunt’s close ties to James Murdoch’s office during the bid process were unveiled at Leveson. The current conflict is potentially damaging to the PM. Cameron has been led to deny any “grand deal” between himself and the Murdochs over the BSkyB bid in exchange for their support of the Conservative Party; his stance on Hunt has angered Clegg and his decision not to delve deeper into the Hunt issue has led to some scrutiny. Cameron himself appears at Leveson for a full day tomorrow.
Meanwhile, Brooks, who was arrested with her husband on charges linked to the phone-hacking scandal, appeared in court for the first time today. She’s facing allegations of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, including that she removed boxes of material from News International and attempted to conceal documents and computers from a police investigation. The Guardian reports that she and her husband and four others facing various charges were bailed until June 22, when they will appear at Southwark crown court. Developing…
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