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.

Photo: Getty
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PMQs review: Jeremy Corbyn prompts Tory outrage as he blames Grenfell Tower fire on austerity

To Conservative cries of "shame on you!", the Labour leader warned that "we all pay a price in public safety" for spending cuts.

A fortnight after the Grenfell Tower fire erupted, the tragedy continues to cast a shadow over British politics. Rather than probing Theresa May on the DUP deal, Jeremy Corbyn asked a series of forensic questions on the incident, in which at least 79 people are confirmed to have died.

In the first PMQs of the new parliament, May revealed that the number of buildings that had failed fire safety tests had risen to 120 (a 100 per cent failure rate) and that the cladding used on Grenfell Tower was "non-compliant" with building regulations (Corbyn had asked whether it was "legal").

After several factual questions, the Labour leader rose to his political argument. To cries of "shame on you!" from Tory MPs, he warned that local authority cuts of 40 per cent meant "we all pay a price in public safety". Corbyn added: “What the tragedy of Grenfell Tower has exposed is the disastrous effects of austerity. The disregard for working-class communities, the terrible consequences of deregulation and cutting corners." Corbyn noted that 11,000 firefighters had been cut and that the public sector pay cap (which Labour has tabled a Queen's Speech amendment against) was hindering recruitment. "This disaster must be a wake-up call," he concluded.

But May, who fared better than many expected, had a ready retort. "The cladding of tower blocks did not start under this government, it did not start under the previous coalition governments, the cladding of tower blocks began under the Blair government," she said. “In 2005 it was a Labour government that introduced the regulatory reform fire safety order which changed the requirements to inspect a building on fire safety from the local fire authority to a 'responsible person'." In this regard, however, Corbyn's lack of frontbench experience is a virtue – no action by the last Labour government can be pinned on him. 

Whether or not the Conservatives accept the link between Grenfell and austerity, their reluctance to defend continued cuts shows an awareness of how politically vulnerable they have become (No10 has announced that the public sector pay cap is under review).

Though Tory MP Philip Davies accused May of having an "aversion" to policies "that might be popular with the public" (he demanded the abolition of the 0.7 per cent foreign aid target), there was little dissent from the backbenches – reflecting the new consensus that the Prime Minister is safe (in the absence of an attractive alternative).

And May, whose jokes sometimes fall painfully flat, was able to accuse Corbyn of saying "one thing to the many and another thing to the few" in reference to his alleged Trident comments to Glastonbury festival founder Michael Eavis. But the Labour leader, no longer looking fearfully over his shoulder, displayed his increased authority today. Though the Conservatives may jeer him, the lingering fear in Tory minds is that they and the country are on divergent paths. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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