Labour's Tom Watson: Government has 'no mandate' to drop Leveson Two

The Conservative government has “absolutely no mandate” to drop the second part of the Leveson Inquiry, shadow culture secretary Tom Watson has warned.

The Conservatives pledged in their General Election manifesto that they would not hold the second part, saying that the “comprehensive nature” of the first investigation meant it was no longer necessary.

But Watson, Labour’s deputy leader and Shadow Culture Secretary, told City AM: “What this election has made clear is that the Conservatives have absolutely no mandate to drop Leveson two.

“In fact, given the support for Leveson previously expressed by senior figures in the DUP, it is clear that there may now be a parliamentary majority in favour of commencing Leveson two.”

In addition, Watson said, Leveson Two – which Labour had pledged in its election manifesto would go ahead – was necessary so that broadcast regulator Ofcom could have a “true understanding of the corporate governance failures inside the Murdoch empire”.

Ofcom is due to report this week on the proposed 21st Century Fox takeover of Sky, although observers say the deal looks more vulnerable following the election.

The terms of reference for the second part of the Leveson Inquiry are:

  • To inquire into the extent of unlawful or improper conduct within News International, other newspaper organisations and, as appropriate, other organisations within the media, and by those responsible for holding personal data;
  • To inquire into the way in which any relevant police force investigated allegations or evidence of unlawful conduct by persons within or connected with News International, the review by the Metropolitan Police of their initial investigation, and the conduct of the prosecuting authorities;
  • To inquire into the extent to which the police received corrupt payments or other inducements, or were otherwise complicit in such misconduct or in suppressing its proper investigation, and how this was allowed to happen;
  • To inquire into the extent of corporate governance and management failures at News International and other newspaper organisations, and the role, if any, of politicians, public servants and others in relation to any failure to investigate wrongdoing at News International;
  • In the light of these inquiries, to consider the implications for the relationships between newspaper organisations and the police, prosecuting authorities, and relevant regulatory bodies – and to recommend what actions, if any, should be taken.

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