Leveson inquiry: 10 key questions for David Cameron

On Andy Coulson, the BSkyB bid and the Murdochs.

Ahead of David Cameron's appearance at the Leveson inquiry tomorrow, here are 10 questions the PM needs to answer.

1. What questions did you ask Andy Coulson about phone-hacking before hiring him?

2. Why, according to Mr Coulson, did you not seek further assurances after the Guardian revealed that phone-hacking went far beyond “one rogue reporter”?

3. Why wasn’t Mr Coulson given full security vetting unlike all of his recent predecessors?

4. You told the House of Commons on 20 July 2011 that Mr Coulson “was not able to see the most secret documents”. But Mr Coulson told the inquiry that he attended meetings of the National Security Council (NSC), where participants can view content classified as top secret. Did you mislead Parliament?

5. Did anyone ask Mr Coulson whether he retained any shares in News Corporation? If not, why not?

6. Why did you hand Jeremy Hunt quasi-judicial responsibility for the BSkyB bid after he had written a memo to you supporting it?

7. Did you ever discuss phone-hacking with Rupert Murdoch, James Murdoch, Rebekah Brooks or any other News International executives? If not, why not?

8. James Murdoch told the inquiry that he discussed the BSkyB bid with you on 23 December 2010 at Mrs Brooks’s home. What was said?

9. Did Rupert Murdoch ever pressure you to change government policy?

10. How often did you speak to Mrs Brooks during her time as Sun editor and chief executive of News International?

David Cameron with former Sun editor and News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks. Photograph: Getty Images.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Theresa May’s stage-managed election campaign keeps the public at bay

Jeremy Corbyn’s approach may be chaotic, but at least it’s more authentic.

The worst part about running an election campaign for a politician? Having to meet the general public. Those ordinary folk can be a tricky lot, with their lack of regard for being on-message, and their pesky real-life concerns.

But it looks like Theresa May has decided to avoid this inconvenience altogether during this snap general election campaign, as it turns out her visit to Leeds last night was so stage-managed that she barely had to face the public.

Accusations have been whizzing around online that at a campaign event at the Shine building in Leeds, the Prime Minister spoke to a room full of guests invited by the party, rather than local people or people who work in the building’s office space.

The Telegraph’s Chris Hope tweeted a picture of the room in which May was addressing her audience yesterday evening a little before 7pm. He pointed out that, being in Leeds, she was in “Labour territory”:

But a few locals who spied this picture online claimed that the audience did not look like who you’d expect to see congregated at Shine – a grade II-listed Victorian school that has been renovated into a community project housing office space and meeting rooms.

“Ask why she didn’t meet any of the people at the business who work in that beautiful building. Everyone there was an invite-only Tory,” tweeted Rik Kendell, a Leeds-based developer and designer who says he works in the Shine building. “She didn’t arrive until we’d all left for the day. Everyone in the building past 6pm was invite-only . . . They seemed to seek out the most clinical corner for their PR photos. Such a beautiful building to work in.”

Other tweeters also found the snapshot jarring:

Shine’s founders have pointed out that they didn’t host or invite Theresa May – rather the party hired out the space for a private event: “All visitors pay for meeting space in Shine and we do not seek out, bid for, or otherwise host any political parties,” wrote managing director Dawn O'Keefe. The guestlist was not down to Shine, but to the Tory party.

The audience consisted of journalists and around 150 Tory activists, according to the Guardian. This was instead of employees from the 16 offices housed in the building. I have asked the Conservative Party for clarification of who was in the audience and whether it was invite-only and am awaiting its response.

Jeremy Corbyn accused May of “hiding from the public”, and local Labour MP Richard Burgon commented that, “like a medieval monarch, she simply briefly relocated her travelling court of admirers to town and then moved on without so much as a nod to the people she considers to be her lowly subjects”.

But it doesn’t look like the Tories’ painstaking stage-management is a fool-proof plan. Having uniform audiences of the party faithful on the campaign trail seems to be confusing the Prime Minister somewhat. During a visit to a (rather sparsely populated) factory in Clay Cross, Derbyshire, yesterday, she appeared to forget where exactly on the campaign trail she was:

The management of Corbyn’s campaign has also resulted in gaffes – but for opposite reasons. A slightly more chaotic approach has led to him facing the wrong way, with his back to the cameras.

Corbyn’s blunder is born out of his instinct to address the crowd rather than the cameras – May’s problem is the other way round. Both, however, seem far more comfortable talking to the party faithful, even if they are venturing out of safe seat territory.

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.

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