As the Tory Conference got underway in Birmingham, David Cameron was forced to stress that the Leveson Inquiry is not a busted flush. His reiteration of the probe’s importance was spurred by an open letter in the newspaper, signed by 40 Leveson witnesses on behalf of the Hacked Off pressure group, following a recent Times article in which Cameron was said to reject interventionist press regulation – even if Lord Justice Leveson recommends it. Cameron himself set up the Inquiry in the wake of summer 2011’s revelations about phone hacking at News International.
“We’ve got to have a free press: they’ve got to be free to uncover wrongdoing, to follow the evidence, to do the job in our democracy they need to do,” Cameron said. “But, on the other hand, it’s quite clear people have been abused, people’s families and lives have been torn up by press intrusion – the status quo is not an option. Let’s let [Leveson] do his work. I fully intend to, and I think that this goes right across the parties: we all want to put in place a sensible regulatory system. We’re hoping Lord Leveson is going to crack this problem for us.”
Any further comments on the issue could presumably be addressed to Cameron’s new Twitter feed, which also emerged over the weekend. Have your say at @David_Cameron.
ITV bosses have come under fire yet again on advertising and sponsorship grounds, following the recent controversy over Wonga’s involvement with gambling show Red or Black. The new storm has centred on the plethora of Samsung devices that chewed away screen time in Saturday’s first live show of The X Factor – all part of a product-placement deal made possible by changes in Ofcom’s regulatory framework. Angry viewers taunted ITV with negative tweets about the painfully obvious usage of the handsets, and of the blizzard of shots glamorising the contestants’ posh hotel… the result of an additional tie-up.
ITV sales director Mark Trinder said: “We are delighted to be working with Samsung and this initiative is a key part of a wider and integrated multiplatform partnership. Editorial integrity remains at the heart of what we do, and we feel this is an excellent brand fit.”
Millionaire Whitehall mandarin Lin Homer has taken flak for allegedly ignoring Virgin Trains’ objections to the franchise model for the West Coast rail line – a model that spectacularly imploded last week, to the tune of a £40m bill to the taxpayer. Homer was not only a critical player in the creation of the franchise framework throughout much of last year, but previously put in five years’ service as chief executive of the UK Border Agency (UKBA) – a unit described by Keith Vaz MP as “not fit for purpose”. According to Express reporter Ted Jeory, Homer’s UKBA reign led to a 450,000-strong backlog of asylum claims.
Lower business rates should be awarded to small businesses that help to take youngsters off the dole, according to a report by five leading Tory councils. Under plans that will be formally submitted to MPs at the Conservative Party Conference, the skills of up to 1.2 million 16 to 24-year-olds would be targeted for use in special “job growth zones”. In return, the supporting SMEs could each stand to save around £20,000 per year. Westminster Council chief Philippa Roe said: “It would be massively beneficial for small and medium-sized businesses and the people they take on.”
Hands up if you spent a lot of Sunday pushing “refresh” on the Glastonbury website until tickets materialised? (Or, indeed, failed to do so.) Well, you’re not alone. According to Glasto organisers and all-round live-music moguls Michael and Emily Eavis, the festival took a record 100 minutes to sell out its 135,000 slots, with fans clearly having experienced a major drought following the event’s suspension this year. The swiftness of the sell out prompted the Eavises to commiserate that they were “genuinely humbled” by the interest, and to apologise to anyone who had missed out.
Flamboyant TV fashion and food presenter Gok Wan has acquired semi-tycoon status within the Tu clothing brand run by the Sainsbury’s supermarket chain. According to the retail giant’s latest figures, Wan’s line has driven a 17% rise in Tu sales over the past 12 months, with his £45 take on a £70 dress popularised by the Duchess of Cambridge motivating some serious wallet evacuation.