The Daily Mail has raised questions over the apparent closeness of BBC business editor Robert Peston to News International after he has obtained a string of big stories relating to the phone-hacking scandal.
Peston has landed some impressive scoops over the last week – including yesterday’s allegation that the News of the World paid police officers for royal family contact details.
In a comment piece today the Mail claimed that while Peston was a ‘brilliant journalist”, even his “admirers are beginning to wonder about the impartiality and independence of his reporting on the News International phone hacking scandal”.
Certainly he has been remarkably well-informed, particularly concerning allegations about bribes to police.
Clearly some of these leaks are coming from NI itself and detectives are understandably furious that they are compromising their inquiry and could even be perverting the course of justice.
Significantly, Scotland Yard says the leaks are ‘designed to divert attention from elsewhere’.
Another article in today’s Mail highlights how Peston once worked for News International and was a friend and former colleague of current News International group general manager Will Lewis, claiming there were ‘suggestions that the BBC man is being used by the Murdoch machine”.
It claimed Peston attended a party thrown by PR man Matthew Freud, the husband of Rupert Murdoch’s daughter Elisabeth, at the beginning of July, adding:
According to the report Mr Peston, resplendent in a peach cotton scarf, was huddled together with Rebekah Brooks, his friend Mr Lewis, and their boss James Murdoch for a good part of the evening
The paper also quotes Labour MP Tom Watson alleging that Peston was being ‘spoon-fed’internal News International documents that were being handed over to police.