The latest news on the News International story is that the government is refusing to postpone consideration of the BSkyB takeover whilst at the same time appearing to resist calls for an inquiry to be headed by a judge. No cogent reason has been given as to why the inquiry should not be headed by a judge. Given the nature of the allegations that the inquiry will have to consider the logic of appointing a judge to head it seems irresistible. Failing to appoint a judge to head the inquiry will weaken the inquiry and diminish its impact.
The government seems also to be trying to set up two separate inquiries even though the logic of the situation clearly requires one inquiry. It is totally unclear why there should be two inquiries instead of one when any inquiry if it is to do its work properly has to look at all the facts. Having two separate inquiries not only runs the risk of the two inquiries working at cross purposes but also means that their respective reports will have diminished impact since they will each deal with only part of the matter. Frankly the attempt to set up two inquiries looks like an attempt to narrow their terms of reference and to limit the matters they are able to consider in a way that can only help News International.
After hearing this news I am sure I will not be the only person who will be wondering why the government is bending over backwards to help News International despite all the evidence of illegal and criminal activity that now exists. Nor will I be the only person to start to wonder about the reasons for the Prime Minister’s behaviour as he puts his reputation on the line not just on behalf of News International but also on behalf of Rupert and James Murdoch, Andy Coulson and Rebeka Brooks, all of whom it turns out he counts as his friends.