Calling for an urgent review of the Sheridan conviction, Tom Watson said:
“Tommy Sheridan was convicted on an 8 to 6 verdict of a jury in a Scottish court. Mr Sheridan lost his liberty and is still the subject of restrictions on his movement.
“The detention of Andy Coulson further highlights why Mr Sheridan’s conviction was unsound. It is now abundantly clear that members of the jury were not in full possession of the facts. If they knew what the police now know, It seems impossible not to conclude that Mr Sheridan would be a free man.
“His conviction should be urgently reviewed. And if the first minister has any honour, he would launch an immediate inquiry into illicit information techniques practiced by News International’s employees in Scotland.”
During the Leveson inquiry today, Robert Jay asked Tony Blair whether he had received emails from Rebekah Brooks suggesting that she exact some form of retribution for my resignation in 2006. He dismissed the claim.
This puts me in a difficult position because the person who told me does not want their name to be made public, but given Mr Blair’s outright dismissal of the claim, I feel I have to give further comment.
I was told by a former cabinet minister, a victim of hacking, just over two weeks ago that evidence to prove my claim exists and is held by Operation Weeting. The former Secretary of State, who is considered very close to Tony Blair, told me there is evidence to show Rebekah Brooks made the offer to exact retribution for the resignation. The minister said that the evidence shows that Tony Blair did not reject the offer. This of course was his choice, but it was a choice – one given to him by Brooks.
The evidence about the text messages from Rebekah Brooks regarded a person close to Tony Blair’s successor, Gordon Brown. I know who this person is but choose to protect their privacy. The text messages existed last time I checked though.
I think it probably best that I say no more on this matter. It’s better we all move on.
45. As with the projects with which I had previously been involved as Mr Hunt’s Special Adviser, I assumed the role of mahanging the relationships with interested parties. Frederic Michel, Director of Pulbic Affairs for News Corp sent an email to James Murdoch and others, on 24 December 2010 (page 42 of exhibit KRM 18) in which Michel appears to record a conversation which he held directly, with Mr Hunt “Just spoke to JH. Said he was very happy for me to be the point of contact with him/Adam on behalf of JRM going forward”. According to the email, if it is accurate, it would appear that Mr Hunt told Mr Michel that I was to be News Corp’s point of contact and that it was “…fine to liase at that political level…”. It appears that he may have also told Mr Michel that the Department and NWS legal teams would also ne “…in touch”.
46. I was aware that Mr Hunt would be acting in a quasi judicial capacity in relation to the bid, as is required by the Enterprise Act 2002, but it was not explained to me how this night impact upon my contact with News Corp of any other interested party.
49. The bid would also be discussed on a more informal basis between me, Mr Hunt, Jon Zeff, ****** and ****** on occasions when our paths would cross throughout the day. For example, they would come to my office to let me know about how matters were progressing (for example, if the consultation process was coming to an end or if Mr Hunt was planning to make a statement). They would also ask me if I could assist in resolving any sticky points, for example, the issue regarding redactions, and would seek my advice on non legal issues (what I would describe as presentational advice), for example, the issue of whether or not reports should be published. On those occasions I would advise them of News Corp’s position on the issues which I would have learned from the contact I received from Michel.
50. I was not asked to provide any formal written reports in relation to my contact with Mr Michel of News Corp and nor was I asked to advise Mr Hunt of Mr Zeff of anybody else, of the extent of the contact. However, I believe that Mr Hunt, Mr Stephes, Mr Zeff, ****** and ****** were all generally aware of my activites from a combination of the discussions at our meetings and our more informal contact, and as a consequence of emails which were sent to Mr Zeff and ****** direct, by Mr Michel, which I deal with below.
51. Even if other members of the Department did not know, precisely, the amount of contact I was receiving from Mr Michel, I do not believe that it could have been a surprise to anybody that Mr Michel was contacting me on a very regular basis. It was, of course, well understood that the bid was important to News Corp and that News Corp had a team of public affairs officials whose responsibility it was to obtain information about the progress of the bid and to advocate News Corp’s position as the bid progressed. As I has not received any specific instruction as to how I should deal with contact I received from News Corp. I approached the matter in the same way that I did in other projects with which I had been involved. As I have said, my style and approach was well known.
52. In terms of the information that I relayed to Mr Michel, again, I received no specific instructions as to whether of not there were any limits to the types of information which I could provide. I deal with the information I provided in detail in the next section of my witness statement. In general terms, I was not personally involved with the discussions between Ofcom, the OFT and News Corp. For example, save for one telephone call which I received from Ed Richards, of Ofcom and the official meetings I had with Mr Hunt, I hadno contact with either Ofcom or the OFT. I was more familiar with issues relating to the process and as a result of the frequent contact I received from him, I would advise Mr Michel on such matters regularly. My knowledge of the process was derived from my understanding of the provisions and requirements of the Enterprise Act 2002 and from inormation which was provided to me by other members of the department.
57. The emails also demonstrate that other key members of the Department were aware of the nature of the contact which I was receiving from Mr Michel. At no time did any individual express concern about the level of my involvement or provide any guidance about the way in which I should be responding to the contact I was receiving from Mr Michel.