Observations On Labour Demands PM Statement In Commons. To Do It Any Justice I Have Enclosed The Article Below:
There have been calls for Jeremy Hunt to resign after it was revealed his special adviser was in contact with News Corp during its bid for BSkyB.
The prime minister has resisted demands to order an inquiry into claims the ministerial code was broken.
A Labour source told the BBC Mr Cameron needed to explain on Monday why he was “ducking his responsibilities”.
He has argued that he wants to hear Mr Hunt’s evidence to the Leveson Inquiry on press standards first.
“With Parliament breaking up on Tuesday, Mr Cameron must come to the Commons and explain to the British people why he is ducking his responsibilities to enforce the ministerial code.”
BBC deputy political editor James Landale said Labour was pushing hard for a Commons statement, but the government was hoping the issue would move “from a major to a minor key” over the next few days.
Responsibility for ruling on the BSkyB takeover bid in a “quasi-judicial” manner was given to the culture secretary in 2010.
Last week the Leveson Inquiry published emails between Mr Hunt’s special adviser, Adam Smith, and News Corporation’s head of public affairs, Frederic Michel, about the company’s efforts to take over the 61% of the broadcaster it did not already own.
Mr Hunt has denied Labour claims that the emails show the firm had a “back channel” of influence to his office but his adviser quit earlier this week, saying the extent of contact went too far and had not been authorised by Mr Hunt.
Labour says the culture secretary himself should go – because the ministerial code states ministers are responsible for their own actions and those of their special advisers.
They have also accused him of misleading Parliament about whether he had published all exchanges between his department and News Corporation, part of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire.
It wants the independent adviser on ministerial interests, Sir Alex Allan, to look into the matter, a call backed by some Lib Dems and Conservative backbenchers.
Mr Hunt has promised to disclose private texts and emails between him and Mr Smith to the Leveson Inquiry.
Speaking to the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, Mr Cameron said all the details of the row would be “laid bare” by the Leveson Inquiry – to which Mr Hunt will give evidence next month.
He said the email contact had been “too close” but said, as things stood, he did not believe Mr Hunt had broken the code. But he said he, as prime minister, was ultimately responsible for ensuring the ministerial code was upheld and the issue had to be properly investigated.
“If evidence comes out through this exhaustive inquiry [Leveson], where you’re giving evidence under oath, if he did breach the ministerial code, then clearly that’s a different issue and I would act,” Mr Cameron said.
Labour’s deputy leader Harriet Harman told BBC One’s Sunday Politics it was “already evident” that Mr Hunt had breached the code.
She added: “Even more seriously than that, when he was responsible for acting quasi-judicially on a hugely important takeover bid of £8bn, he did not act impartially.”
The Sun newspaper, which is owned by another company in Rupert Murdoch’s News Corps empire, switched its support from Labour to the Conservatives in September 2009.
But Mr Cameron said it was “not true” to suggest there had been an arrangement in which he would help the Murdochs’ business interests or allow the BSkyB takeover to go through, in return for their support for his party.
“It would be absolutely wrong for there to be any sort of deal and there wasn’t… There was no grand deal,” he said.
Well next week there will Local Government Election and Referendums on 3rd May 2012 now is the time to send a bloody nose message to the coalition by turning all councils into Labour for which I make no apologies.
Although I have my own opinions about Elected Mayors I would say this much that this UK is not the USA and why should we in the UK follow suit granted it was Labour who introduced the it and the coalition is continuing it. I wonder if Obama says to UK to jump will the next response be “How high master and yes sir”
Mmmm something comes to mind this very movement is it pleasant or evil well here goes be warned “let he who is without sin, cast the first stone” as the Prime Minister looks preoccupied and angry, and no wonder. At PMQs his integrity was called into question, something he absolutely hates. There was real fury in his voice when he struck back at Ed Miliband towards the end of their exchanges.
Miliband began on the economy and the double-dip recession but not with any real verve: “What is the Prime Minister’s excuse this time?” That allowed Cameron a good run at framing it in terms of Labour, thinking it had ended boom’n’bust, creating the monster of all economic crises from which it will take the country time to recover.
Miliband was clearly itching to get on to Hunt and Leveson and segued into it rather inelegantly. It would have been far better to have split the questions formally into two chunks of three, leaving Cameron knowing that he would have to wait until later for a section on Hunt.
And rather than being forensic, which would have been much more powerful, he somewhat flailed about. There is little point shouting that the Government got too close to Murdoch. Surely the public thinks, rightly, that both major parties got too close to News Corp and discounts standard political knockabout on the subject?
The Labour leader’s focus should have been on specifics: Why did Hunt’s special advisor resign only 18 hours after Hunt said he had full confidence in him? How does Cameron respond to the claim by James Murdoch that they discussed – albeit briefly – the BSkyB deal when having a festive dinner at the Oxfordshire home of Rebekah Brooks?
These omissions allowed Cameron to close quite strongly. Against the odds, it was a late win for the Prime Minister.
Pressure piled on the government on Thursday for an inquiry into claims that Jeremy Hunt broke ministerial rules in dealing with News Corporation’s BSkyB bid.
Labour accused the Culture Secretary of breaching the ministerial code of conduct three times in his handling of News Corp’s £8 billion takeover bid for the broadcaster.
Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman has written to David Cameron urging him to refer the case to his independent adviser on ministers’ interests Sir Alex Allan.
She said that Mr Hunt breached the code by failing to take responsibility for the actions of his special adviser, failing to give “accurate and truthful information” to Parliament and passing a parliamentary statement to News Corp before the Commons had been informed.
It comes following the release of a 163-page dossier by the Leveson Inquiry detailing correspondence between News Corp executive Frederic Michel and Mr Hunt’s office.
Mr Hunt has denied that the stream of emails and texts represented a secret “back channel” giving News Corp an advantage over its rivals in the BSkyB bid.
However the Financial Services Authority is considering an investigation into whether Mr Hunt’s office released market-sensitive information to News Corp in breach of City rules.
Mr Hunt admitted that his special advisor Adam Smith, who resigned over the issue, “overstepped the mark” in his correspondence with Mr Michel.
Labour leader Ed Miliband said it was “incredible” that Mr Hunt was still Culture Secretary.
He commented: “It beggars belief that he’s still in his job because to believe that he should stay, you have to believe that his special adviser was, if you like, a lone wolf who spent six months in collusion with News Corporation.”
Mr Miliband acknowledged that Labour too had “got too close to the Murdochs” but went on: “There is a world of difference between being too close to the Murdochs and the pattern of behaviour we’ve seen revealed in the past few days.”
Former director general of the Office of Fair Trading John Bridgeman added: “If you look at the criminal justice system, if these things happened with judges or a jury, it would be seen as contempt.”