Maria Miller press row escalates

6:05pm Wednesday 12th December 2012

By Adam Richards

THE PRIME Minister’s director of communications is reported to have stepped into the press row about the home expenses of Basingstoke MP and Culture Secretary, Maria Miller.

This afternoon, The Daily Telegraph reported that Craig Oliver, Prime Minister David Cameron’s director of communications “warned” the paper’s editor Tony Gallagher that Mrs Miller “was looking at Leveson”. They said he intervened the day after the Culture Secretary’s special advisor Joanna Hindley “flagged up” the Cabinet minister's connection to press regulation and the inquiry into press conduct and recommendations made by Lord Justice Leveson.

A press spokesman at Number 10 said Mr Oliver was not seeking to influence the paper, and said Miss Hindley had not broken any rules.

The Prime Minister’s spokesman said: “My understanding is that she was raising legitimate concerns about the way in which the investigation had been handled. It is perfectly reasonable for her to do that.

“I do not think it's unprecedented for special advisers or politicians to raise these kinds of concerns.”

But campaigners in favour of press reform have called for Mrs Miller to stand back from decision-making on the Leveson inquiry and the Government’s response to its call for regulation underpinned by legislation.

Evan Harris, associate director of Hacked Off, a campaign group leading the call for press reform said: “I think this morning Hacked Off are calling for her to be recused. This Maria Miller story is astonishing.''

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