After a week off, Lord Leveson will resume his inquiry into press standards today. Today it is the turn of Chancellor George Osborne. Yesterday’s Observer revealed his meetings with Murdoch will be under scrutiny and we will learn how the Tories relationships developed with News Corp executives following private social gatherings and Swiss chalet parties attended by News Corp executives.
Over the weekend Toby Helm’s piece said that ‘Sources close to the chancellor insisted last night that it was complete rubbish “to suggest that any deal to secure Tory support for the bid had been done struck in the chalet as Osborne had not learnt that the bid was happening until well after the election.’
The Labour Party has suggested that it will call for a new system of independent regulation of the press.
What exactly will emerge as a result of the inquiry remains to be seen, but any new system of regulation will have to be robust and have power’s to impose sanctions on anyone falling foul of the rules.
That said, a free and independent press is something Britain rightly prides itself on and that must remain the case, but with a proper system of independent regulation. You can read Toby Helm’s piece here.
Meanwhile with the Olympics just 46 days away, Brooke Magnanti- better known by her alias ‘Belle de Jour’, is supporting a campaign which has written to the Mayor of London addressing fears that police tactics are compromising the safety of sex workers. The letter believes the raids are part of a clean-up operation which target sex workers working in establishments across London in the run up to the Olympics.
Police tactics must be proportionate and this is a sensitive area of policing. Vulnerable women must not be deterred from reporting crimes or from coming forward to seek help and support.
Support must always be the ultimate goal and outreach work must never be compromised. You can read the article in full here.
Chaotic economic policies have caused a split among the coalition, Sunday Mirror’s Vincent Moss revealed yesterday. The revelations followed news from earlier in the week when it was announced Britain is now in a double dip recession.
A source revealed to the Sunday Mirror that ‘Mr Osborne was becoming increasingly isolated as he faced a torrent of criticism from both Tory ministers and senior Lib Dems.’
The source added: ‘Things are so bad right now; George could even get the blame for the rain.’ You can read the article in full here.
It was a bad week for the coalition in other areas too. The Leveson Inquiry dominated many of the headlines mid week when Rupert Murdoch gave his evidence to the inquiry and during this time questions arose over whether the culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, may have broken the ministerial code in his handling of the News Corp bid for BSkyB.
If the story alone isn’t embarrassing enough for David Cameron then added to that embarrassment was the refusal by Lord Justice Leveson who made it clear to the government that the purpose of his inquiry was not to rule if the culture secretary had indeed breached his ministerial code.
This came after Cameron had suggested on Wednesday last week that the Leveson inquiry was the best forum in which to determine whether Hunt had handled the bid in a partisan manner.
There were also denials that the deputy prime minister had meddled in the inquiry and that he had asked the inquiry to bring forward the date of Hunts appearance so his case could be ‘fast tracked’. Leveson’s spokesman said that Hunt’s request to bring his evidence session forward had been turned down “in the interests of fairness to all”. You can read the full story here.
Marina Hyde offered insight into the historic week in which Rupert Murdoch spent a day and a half giving evidence to the inquiry. She suggested that Murdoch’s contempt for politicians was borne of the embarrassing ease with which he is able to persuade them to fawn over him. She recalls that he said: ‘”I wish they’d leave me alone,” he lamented of a succession of prime ministers during last year’s select committee testimony.’
Perhaps senior politicians have been guilty of this. But as we are now finding everyone gets held to account. Eventually.
This week former athlete Mary Rand was granted the freedom of the city of her birth Wells, Somerset. This long called for recognition comes almost 50 years after her astounding achievements at the Tokyo Olympics in 1964.
In Tokyo, Mary Rand was the first ever British female to win a gold medal in a track and field event. This achievement came just two years after the birth of her first daughter.
Smashing the previous world record, Mary took the gold medal in the long jump with a jump of 6.76 meters. Mary was the first Brit to break a world record at the Olympics since 1932. That year at the games Mary also took home a silver medal for the pentathlon and bronze in the 4×100 meter relay.
Mary’s path to success was not an easy one. Her record in Tokyo was set 4 years after massive disappointment at the Rome Olympics where, after setting a British long jump record in the qualifying round, she fouled twice in the final and came ninth.
1964 was also the year that Mary was voted BBC sports personality of the year. Given this year’s disgraceful absence of women from the BBC’s shortlist it is surprising to be reminded that in the sixties almost half of the winners were women.
Whilst much of the furore over last year’s award has now died down I am still disgusted that not a single woman made the shortlist. That ‘lads mags’ Nuts and Zoo, who could be said to trade in the objectification of women, participated in the nominations, is just one more example of the pervasive sexism in the media highlighted in the Leveson inquiry.
1964 was a particular high point in Mary’s illustrious career, but was far from the only success. Mary also broke British records in pentathlon and won medals at the 1958 Commonwealth Games and European Championships.
Fellow Olympian Brendan Foster has said that Mary was an inspiration to female athletes.