David Cameron has refused to refer culture secretary Jeremy Hunt’s handling of the BSkyB bid to an independent investigation after being called to Parliament to answer an urgent question.
The Prime Minister, answering the question posed by Labour leader Ed Miliband, said it was neither necessary or right to have another inquiry before Hunt had given evidence to Leveson.
Miliband pointed to three separate occasions on which he alleged Hunt “clearly breached” the ministerial code. They were:
- when Hunt claimed that all exchanges between the department and News Corp had been published.
- News Corp being provided with confidential information ahead of Parliament.
- the claim that Adam Smith (the special adviser who resigned as a result of the revelations) was “on a freelance mission”, which Hunt should have known about.
Cameron robustly defended each occasion saying that Miliband’s facts were incorrect.
Miliband added: “The special adviser had to go to protect the secretary of state has to stay to protect the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister is too close to a powerful few and out of touch with everyone else.”
Despite calls from numerous MPs during the exchange including Simon Hughes and Margaret Hodges, Cameron maintained that Leveson is the right forum to probe Hunt’s conduct initially.
“It is a judge led inquiry that requires evidence to be given under oath. There is nothing this tough or rigorous in the civil service”, he added.
However, the Prime Minister did not rule out a separate investigation after Hunt has given evidence, if there are further questions or lines of inquiry.
This story was originally published by Broadcast.