Tom Watson MP

MP Tom Watson claims the BBC is 'slightly intimidated' by News International

Credit: Benjamin Ellis on Flickr. Some rights reserved
Labour MP Tom Watson, who has campaigned to keep the phone hacking scandal on the political agenda for several years, has accused the BBC of not taking the story seriously.

Speaking in a BBC interview this morning, Watson singled out its political editor Nick Robinson for criticism and said the broadcaster "should probably take a look at itself".

"I don't think their political journalists took this story seriously when the investigation was taking place in parliament. I think Nick Robinson, the most powerful political editor in the land, missed the story of his life, and this will come out in the reviews over months and years to come."

Watson went to claim that the BBC was "slightly intimidated by News International".

"There was a new government that was fairly hostile in its language to the BBC. You know, we had a six-month parliamentary inquiry that found senior [News International] executives guilty of collective amnesia and stated that it was inconceivable that others at News International were not aware of phone hacking and nobody reported it.

"That's quite a big challenge back to the British media and that includes the BBC."

Watson also criticised News International's executives, claiming they had "not really shown any humility yet, no one at the top has carried any responsibility for it".

He called the escalation in the phone-hacking scandal "a wake up call for politicans" and said it was "brilliant that the three parties are now working together on this".

Conservative and Lib Dem MPs will join Labour in the House of Commons today to call on News Corp to drop its bid to take full control BSkyB bid.

Cameron is also expected to give further details about two independent public inquiries into the phone hacking and the relationship between the media and the Metropolitan police.

Watson, who was named as Commons select committee member of the year at the House magazine awards earlier this year for this role in the phone hacking scandal, sits on the culture media and sport select committee, which has invited Rupert and James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks to appear before it as witnesses next Tuesday.

News International said yesterday that it would cooperate with the formal request, but asked this morning whether he thought the trio of executives would attend, Watson said: "To be honest, no. I think they are running scared and will let everybody down. I think we will have three empty chairs."

He said that in the event they did not show up, the committee would "empty-chair" them if they didn't attend: "I expect them to be there. They have a lot to answer for."

Brooks was invited to appear before the home affairs select committee in July 2009, but refused to do so. Neither Rupert or James Murdoch has been previously invited.

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