Draft dodging

When, oh when, will the Culture, Media and Sport Committee finally grind out its verdict on the phone-hacking scandal?

Having interviewed News Corp potentates from the Murdochs down, having heard from victims and private detectives and a vast array of interested parties, the committee is apparently deadlocked over its conclusions.

The key issue is whether they believe they have been lied to in the course of the contradictory evidence they have received on what was known by whom in the News Corp hierarchy about hacking and so forth. This week, they will have another go at drafting their report - or perhaps decide they ought to call in more witnesses to tease out more nuances.

The rumour is that the committee chair, John Whittingdale, would really like to get this stage over with, but that other committee members have locked their jaws onto the issue and simply refuse to let go.

And there's a wider worry too. The hard-won increase in the credibility of the select committee system during this Parliament could easily be squandered if the report is too hard, too soft, is fudged, or is seen to depart from the evidence.

But it could also be damaged if the report doesn't appear in reasonable time. Much rides on Mr Whittingdale and his merry band.

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