Home Office questions on NoW phone tap row

Home Office minister David Hanson answered questions in the House of Commons this morning about the News International phone-tapping claims.

11.30am: Hanson has spoken to Met assistant commissioner John Yates. The home secretary Alan Johnson is away, in Manchester, but has spoken to the Met commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson in the past hour.

11.32am: Hanson says the Met will be making a statement this afternoon and he will not pre-empt that. “These are serious allegations that are being made. I will report back to the House in due course.”

11.34am: Chris Grayling (shadow home secretary): “We rightly cherish the freedom of the press but it’s vital that freedom is not abused.”

11.35am: Hanson: “I can do no more. It is an operational matter for the police.”

11.36am: Chris Huhne (Lib Dem home affairs spokesman) asks whether David Cameron should sack Andy Coulson. “It beggars belief that senior executives did not know. It’s extraordinary that the leader of the opposition employs Andy Coulson who at best was responsible for a newspaper that was out of control and at worst was implicated in criminal activity.”

11.37am: John Whittingdale (chairman of media select committee): “The chairman of News International gave a categoric assurance [in evidence oto the committee] that no other journalist had any knowledge.” He says the select committee will reopen its inquiry.

11.40am: Andrew Miller (Lab): “There are profound issues that go to the heart of our democracy.” He says it will be a “very difficult investigation”. Hanson says he has not had a chance to speak to the information commissioner or Crown Prosecution Service yet.

11.43am: Geraldine Smith (Lab): “What did the Metropolitan police know? Were they are aware of this and why didn’t they tell the deputy prime minister?”

11.44am: Dennis Skinner (Lab) says Tory frontbench seems “relaxed” about the allegations. “Is it because they’ve got something to hide?”

11.48am: Denis Macshane (Lab): “This is not a matter for a Met police statement this afternoon. The House of Commons has to decide to set up its own inquiry to hear evidence under oath to get to the full bottom of this matter.”

11.49am: Clive Efford (Lab) says the PCC seems to have failed in its duty to protect the public. “They failed to ask questions of the appropriate people to get the right answers.”

11.50am: Ann Clwyd (Lab) asks whether Andy Coulson’s parliamentary pass can be taken away from him while he’s “under suspicion”. Hanson says that would be a matter for the House authorities. The questions end.

More details soon at www.pressgazette.co.uk.

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