Tories see off demands for Hunt inquiry
Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt breathed a sigh of relief last night after MPs voted down a Labour demand for his referral to the Prime Minister’s independent adviser on ministerial standards for investigation over his handling of News Corporation’s bid to buy satellite broadcaster BSkyB.
Despite Nick Clegg’s decision that Liberal Democrat MPs would abstain, Conservatives easily saw off the challenge by 290 to 252.
The vote came after David Cameron told MPs that his adviser, Sir Alex Allan, had written to him to say that he could not “usefully add to the facts” in the Hunt case uncovered by the Leveson Inquiry into media standards.
But Labour dismissed Mr Cameron’s comments as an ineffective “smokescreen” and said that the Prime Minister’s judgment in appointing Mr Hunt to a quasi-judicial role in the BSkyB bid was in question.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, May 26 2013
Mr Hunt gave a robust defence of his actions in the Commons, describing Labour allegations that he deliberately misled Parliament as ‘‘disgraceful‘’. He admitted he may have inadvertently provided incorrect information when he claimed in the Commons to have released all his correspondence relating to the deal, but insisted he corrected the record at the earliest opportunity.
But Labour MP Chris Bryant accused him of lying to Parliament by failing to disclose a memo which he sent to Mr Cameron days before being given responsibility for the BSkyB bid, in which he argued the case for News Corp to be allowed to buy up the 61% of the satellite broadcaster which it did not already own.
Mr Hunt denied having allowed his personal views to influence his impartial handling of the bid, telling MPs: “The real story of this bid was insistence by me at several key stages on decisions that News Corp did not consider in their interests. This was not an easy process, nor was it ever likely to command popular support, but the decisions taken were done so fairly and my department deserves enormous credit as a result.”
Deputy PM Nick Clegg gave his strongest defence yet of the Culture Secretary.
Giving evidence to the Leveson Inquiry, the Lib Dem leader said: “On the specific point on how he handled the bid to make sure that he was insulated from accusations of allowing personal bias to drive the process, I think he has given a full, good and convincing account to this inquiry.”