The Independent's founding editor Andreas Whittam Smith in the paper today accuses David Cameron of "moral blindness" over his links to News International and claims there is an unwritten law in Government: "Never offend the Murdochs".
He writes: "Unfortunately, the Prime Minister has succumbed to a dangerous condition, moral blindness. Intelligence and knowledge are no protection. It is brought on by strong emotions, such as anger, or greed, or sexual appetite. In Mr Cameron's case, it can be diagnosed very simply. It is the desire to hold political power for as long as possible, which is a sort of greed. That is what has clouded his judgement. His unspoken thought is that in order to win the next general election he must at all costs have the backing of News International's newspapers, the News of the World, The Sun, The Times and The Sunday Times. There is the supreme necessity. When necessary, the Murdochs must be appeased. Nothing else matters."
Whittam Simth adds: "But as we have an unwritten constitution, so we have writs that are unrecorded. And if it were spelled out, it would simply state: never offend the Murdochs. Nobody will say this in terms to the Department of Culture that is now handling media competition issues. Nobody has written it down for Scotland Yard's benefit. But this odious rule has become part of our unofficial constitution. That is how bad it is."
Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said today he intends to refer News Corporation's bid for BSkyB to the Competition Commission. But he has given the company extra time to address concerns he has regarding "potential threats to media plurality".
- NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear commented: "Jeremy Hunt has not just shifted the goalposts in considering the Murdoch plan to damage media plurality, he has allowed Rupert Murdoch to take the goalposts home, to return when he feels he's more likely to win the game. The government decision is an outrageous example of how the Coalition is working hand in glove with multinational corporations against the public interest."