UK Political Rivals Join Forces Against Murdoch's Bid

Prasun Sonwalkar/London
UK Political Rivals Join Forces Against Murdoch's Bid
In a rare show of cross-party consensus, the David Cameron government has signalled its willingness to support the opposition Labour party's motion in the House of Commons, asking media baron Rupert Murdoch to withdraw his takeover bid of BSkyB.

The motion is to be tabled tomorrow in a clear sign of Britain's political establishment rising against the illegal and unethical news-gathering practices of Murdoch's media company in Britain, as evident in the phone-hacking scandal.

The motion reads: "This House believes that it is in the public interest for Rupert Murdoch and News Corporation to withdraw its bid for BSkyB".

Murdoch currently owns 39 per cent of the broadcaster BSkyB, and the bid is to own the remaining shares to give his company total control of what will become Britain's biggest media company, bigger than even the BBC.

Prime Minister David Cameron and deputy prime minister Nick Clegg are scheduled to meet opposition Labour leader Ed Miliband later today to discuss the issue that has seriously diminished Murdoch's influence in British politics.

In other developments, Murdoch has been asked to appear before the Culture, Media Sports committee of the House of Commons and give evidence in the imbroglio that involves the press, politicians and the police.

The invitation to appear before the committee has also been addressed to his son, James Murdoch, and chief executive of News International, Rabekah Brooks.

New revelations today included the dismayed former prime minister Gordon Brown going on television to state that Murdoch's News International used criminals and the 'criminal underworld' to access details about his tax, bank account and also the health records of his son, Fraser.

Top officials of the Scotland Yard were grilled on live television today by the Home Affairs Select Committee chaired by Labour MP, Keith Vaz.

They were closely questioned why earlier police inquiries on the issue did not look at related evidence, and prevent the illegal practices.

It was revealed during the session that News International did not cooperate during the earlier inquiries, while Sue Akers, the deputy assistance commissioner currently heading the police inquiry named Operating Weeting, guaranteed a thorough inquiry into the scandal.

The phone-hacking scandal has thrown open a can of worms across politics, media and the police with Murdoch's influence suffering serious knocks.

Brown expressed surprise in an interview to BBC at the 'level of criminality' allegedly indulged in Murdoch's News International, and said the group had links with the 'known criminals and the criminal underworld' in Britain.

Brown, whose tax and bank details were allegedly secured illegally at the behest of Murdoch-owned newspaper titles, accused The Sunday Times of trying to bring him down as a government minister.

He said he was "in tears" when he was told by News International journalists that The Sun had details of his son Fraser's medical condition (he has cystic fibrosis) because he had wanted the information to be kept private.

"Sarah and I were incredibly upset about it, we were thinking about his long term future, we were thinking about our family," he said.

He said he did not know how the newspaper had got access to the details: "The fact is, it did appear and it did appear in The Sun newspaper".
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