Next week’s Leveson line-up is the most noteworthy yet. David Cameron, Nick Clegg, Alex Salmond, Ed Miliband, Harriet Harman and Gordon Brown will all appear. As will George Osborne, who was previously scheduled only to submit written evidence.
But for reasons I’ve explained before, the Chancellor had to appear. It was inconceivable that the man who recruited Andy Coulson, who met Murdoch executives 16 times following the general election and who, in the words of Rebekah Brooks, expressed “total bafflement” at Ofcom’s response to the BSkyB bid, would not take to the witness stand. As the Lib Dem peer Michael Oakeshott quipped, “Leveson without Osborne would be like Hamlet without the prince”.
One key question for Osborne will be whether he spoke to James Murdoch on the day that Jeremy Hunt was handed ministerial responsibility for the BSkyB bid. As was revealed during Hunt’s evidence, following Vince Cable’s declaration of “war” on Rupert Murdoch, Osborne texted the Culture Secretary and told him: “I hope you like the solution!” The solution being to hand Hunt, a cheerleader for the Murdochs (the most egregious example being his congratulatory text to James Murdoch,”Only Ofcom to go!”), responsibility for the bid.
Here’s the full schedule for next week:
Monday: Gordon Brown and George Osborne.
Tuesday: Harriet Harman, John Major and Ed Miliband.
Wednesday: Nick Clegg and Alex Salmond.
Thursday: David Cameron.
Friday: Non-sitting day.