UK government launches phone hacking probe

DAVID Cameron yesterday launched a probe into phone hacking allegations at the News of the World and illegal activities at other newspapers, with the first findings due within one year.

The investigation will be formed of two public inquiries, headed up by Lord Justice Leveson, and will start “as soon as possible”, Cameron said.

It will have the powers to call witnesses, including News Corporation boss Rupert Murdoch, demand documents and take evidence on oath.

The relationship between newspapers, the police and politicians will come under scrutiny, as well as the issue of cross-media ownership. The Prime Minister, speaking in parliament yesterday, also said he would consult cabinet secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell over the ministerial code.

Changes could include forcing ministers to record all meetings with newspaper and media proprietors, senior editors and executives, regardless of the nature of the meeting.

Cameron added that Leveson would make recommendations for a new “more effective way of regulating the press”, adding that any such changes must still support press freedom.

News Corp last night retained PR group Edelman to handle press communications relating to the scandal.