Read the full story as revealed by Gaia Fawkes last week…
The Chairman of the ISC, the Rt. Hon. Sir Malcolm Rifkind has this morning issued the following statement:
None of the current controversy with which I am associated is relevant to my work as Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament.
However, I have today informed my colleagues that while I will remain a member of the Committee, I will step down from the Chairmanship.
The Committee is due to be dissolved in little over a month with the prorogation of Parliament for the forthcoming General Election. The main substantive work which needs to be completed will be the publication of our Privacy and Security Report during March.
I do not want the work of the Committee and the publication of the Report to be, in any way, distracted or affected by controversy as to my personal position. I have concluded, therefore, that it is better that this important work should be presided over by a new Chairman.
Will it be enough to lance the boil?
UPDATE: Rifkind also stepping down as an MP at the election. Kensington is in play.
UPDATE II: Personal statement from Sir Malcolm Rifkind:
“I have received tremendous support from my Constituency Association and from many constituents in Kensington over the last two days. However, I have been pondering whether it is fair to my colleagues and friends in Kensington to remain the prospective Conservative candidate for the forthcoming General Election. I warmly welcome the Committee that has been established by the Party to examine the controversy with which I have been associated and to report by the end of March on its conclusions. It will be an excellent opportunity for an objective assessment of the allegations that have been made and I will be happy to cooperate closely with the Committee. However, it is unlikely that it will be able to finish its deliberations until well into March and there, obviously, can be no certainty as to its conclusions. I am conscious, therefore, that Kensington Conservatives are faced with serious uncertainty until the end of March as to whether I will be able to be their candidate. If I could not they would have little time to choose a new candidate. I am also aware that even if the Committee reach a favourable conclusion as to these allegations the controversy will remain during what is certain to be a heated General Election and, indeed, for many months thereafter until the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards has completed the necessary enquiry. I had intended to seek one further term as MP for Kensington, before retiring from the House of Commons. I have concluded that to end the uncertainty it would be preferable, instead, to step down at the end of this Parliament. This is entirely my personal decision. I have had no such requests from my constituency association but I believe that it is the right and proper action to take. As regards the allegations of Channel 4 and the Daily Telegraph I find them contemptible and will not comment further at this time. Although I will retire from Parliament I shall continue my public and political life and am much looking forward to doing so over the years to come.”
UPDATE III: No. 10:
“Sir Malcolm has had a long career of distinguished service both to the Conservative Party and the country. We respect and support his decision to stand down.”
As interviews go, it doesn’t get much worse than this from the Green leader with Nick Ferrari this morning. Not the ideal thing to happen on the day you’re launching your election campaign…
Congratulations to Laura Poitras on a well deserved Best Documentary Feature Academy Award for her film Citizenfour. Though this quip from Oscar host Neil Patrick Harris must have hurt a little.
“The subject of Citizenfour, Edward Snowden, could not be here tonight for some treason.”
Glenn Greenwald responded to Harris’ joke with characteristic good humour and grace:
“I’m just gonna go ahead and treat it as a joke. I thought it was pretty pitiful, given Hollywood’s fondness for congratulating itself for doing things like standing up for McCarthyism and blacklists. So to just casually spew that sort of accusation against someone who’s not even charged with it, let alone convicted of it, I think is, you know, stupid and irresponsible.”
Chill out mate, it was just a joke…
UPDATE: Ed Snowden has a sense of humour:
“To be honest, I laughed at NPH. I don’t think it was meant as a political statement, but even if it was, that’s not so bad. My perspective is if you’re not willing to be called a few names to help out your country, you don’t care enough.”
The Guardian editor pitches are out, with some deliciously cringworthy brown-nosing submitted in the“candidate statements” of the new wannabe Rusbridgers.
Janine Gibson, one of the favourites, goes for the Islington vote:
“we’re a meeting place for the communities we create around shared passions whether its county cricket, poetry, theatre or watching strangers date wearing Google Glass”
Hotly-tipped Katharine Viner has some innovative crowd-pleasing ideas:
“Themed roles would help us tell a coherent international story: correspondents for water, fossil fuels, women’s rights, a 1% correspondent.”
Meet Wolfgang Blau, the ‘check your privilege’ candidate:
“In regards to our journalistic portfolio, I would like to propose that we substantially increase the diversity of voices – politically, as well as ethnically… I am not a woman and I have not grown up in the United Kingdom. I can only promise to you that as the Editor-in-Chief – should you vote for me and should the Scott Trust choose to appoint me – I will do everything I possibly can to make sure women succeed in their careers at the Guardian.”
While Emily Bell goes for the tried and tested butter ‘em up approach:
“This is a defining moment for the Guardian. You are among the very best journalists in the world. You have produced stories that have challenged the powerful – from News Corp and Scotland Yard to the US intelligence agencies – with courage and brilliance.”
Hugh Grant probably wishes he stayed in bed this morning, instead of bungling a Today programme outing in which he openly admitted to being a puppet for Evan Harris and his Hacked Off cronies. In an excruciating debate, Grant admitted he did not know the details after making a dopey allegation that the journalist who even the Guardian credit with triggering the entire RIPA/Met scandal, had nothing to do with the change in the law:
Hugh Grant: Tom Newton’s contribution was brief
BBC: Really, you’re saying it’s simply not the case that Tom Newton Dunn, who was one of the journalists concerned,
Hugh Grant: Yes.
BBC: …intimately involved. You’re saying he didn’t…
Grant: …that’s my understanding of it…
BBC: That’s quite an allegation to make, that basically the paper likes to be in a position where they feel like victims and are perfectly happy with the status quo, and their phone records to be gone through. Are you seriously saying that?
Hugh Grant: Well in the case of Tom Newton Dunn, I don’t know the exact details of how much he contributed to this particular campaign to get the law changed.
BBC: so you’re not accepting he contributed a lot?
Grant: that’s not what I’ve been told.
Grant’s blind, frothing hatred for anything or anyone linked to Murdoch has left him high and dry. TND tells Media Guido:
“It’s just not true to say editors and newspaper companies did nothing to fight the police abuse of RIPA. My own, The Sun, has invested considerable amounts in legal resources as we continue to pursue the Met through various channels, and newspapers from ours to the Mail, Telegraph and Guardian have all ran powerful leaders recently condemning the police in a very united stand. Not for the first time, Hugh Grant appears to be shoehorning myth to suit his own agenda.”
“That’s not what I’ve been told”? Pull yourself together, man.
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The provisional dates for the TV debates are:
2 April: ITV – Con, Lab, LibDem, UKIP, Greens, Plaid, SNP
16 April: BBC – Con, Lab, LibDem, UKIP, Greens, Plaid, SNP
30 April: Sky/C4 – Con, Lab
Over to you, Clegg…[…]