Did Maria Miller’s adviser threaten journalist?

Apr 5, 2014

Daily Telegraph releases audio of phone conversation

Oli Scarff/Getty Images

Culture secretary Maria Miller is under increased pressure this weekend after the Daily Telegraph released an audio of a government adviser highlighting Miller’s role in the Leveson inquiry to a journalist investigating the minister’s expenses.

During the conversation, which dates from 2012, adviser Joanna Hindley warns the Telegraph reporter that Miller had been having “quite a lot of editors’ meetings around Leveson at the moment”. She adds: “So I am just going to flag up that connection for you to think about.”

In a leader column, the Daily Telegraph says the remarks were intended to make the journalist back away from seeking “straight answers” and were “an indictment of the influence that press regulation by statute could have over free speech”.

It continues: "If our MPs cannot hold an honest conversation about regulation of their own expenditure, how can we expect them to hold an honest conversation about the maintenance of the free press."

However, Hindley has defended the remarks she made during the call. "This conversation must be seen in context that this reporter had tried to door step Maria's elderly dad and she was calling to complain,” she tells Sky News.

This week, Miller was ordered to pay back £5,800 of expenses she had wrongly claimed for a second home and apologised for her "unhelpful" attitude towards the investigation in the House of Commons. 

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