Back in January the line was cast in stone:
From: xxxx | Sent: 27 January 2011 To: xxxx
Subject: Important: Phone hacking
Tom Baldwin has requested that any front bench spokespeople use the following line when questioned on phone hacking.
BSkyB bid and phone tapping
These issues should not be linked. One is a competition issue, the other an allegation of criminal activity.
On BSkyB, we have been consistent in calling for fair play. We believe ministers should conduct themselves properly in what is a quasi-judicial process. We said Vince Cable showed he was incapable of behaving fairly towards News Corp. We have since raised questions about whether Jeremy Hunt can be fully impartial given his record of past statements. We do believe the bid should be referred to the Competition Commission and think Hunt should get on with it. Downing Street says that Cameron’s dinners with Murdoch will not affect Hunt’s judgement. We have to take them at their word.
On phone hacking, we believe the police should thoroughly investigate all allegations. But this is not just an issue about News International. Almost every media organisation in the country may end up becoming embroiled in these allegations. This goes to the root of a wider problem in public life. MPs are taking a hard look at themselves in the mirror over expenses. It is time the media did so too over the way it conducts itself.
Frontbench spokespeople who want to talk about their personal experiences of being tapped should make it clear they are doing just that – speaking from personal experience.
We must guard against anything which appears to be attacking a particular newspaper group out of spite.
Labour Party Press Office
Miliband’s deliberate attempt to muddy the BSkyB waters at PMQs was a declaration of war. Tom Baldwin was brought into shore up the Murdoch connections and Ed was paying homage at the News International summer party two weeks ago, yet today he has has put his head in a noose. It was clear that Miliband could have hit the Prime Minister a lot harder if he had wanted to, and should have just risked it…
It’s not like Murdoch’s papers were warming to him, and now he’s trapped in a halfway house.