i Editor's Letter: Why has Jeremy Hunt not resigned?


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The Independent Online


I am a believer in cock-up, not conspiracy. However, on occasion neither "explanation" will do. One such is a government minister squirming for his political life in the Leveson Inquiry spotlight.

Mary Dejevsky explains how an inquiry set up to protect politicians now threatens them. In this limited space, I want to ask on behalf of i readers: why has Jeremy Hunt not resigned?

Rather like James Murdoch confronted with evidence that might suggest awareness of hacking, Mr Hunt's only defence is unacceptable: negligence. Worse, it's a degree of negligence that suggests, again as with Mr Murdoch, an incompetence never before ascribed to him. Far from it. Mr Hunt has always seemed an intelligent, capable, and, dare I say, unusually likeable minister.

I might add, decent. You could see that in the pain he displayed when Robert Jay discussed the sacrificial Spad (special adviser) Adam Smith. He couldn't traduce Mr Smith with whom he said he was joined at the hip on policy matters. This only raises another question: if the Spad is so capable, so aligned with his master and so unimpeachable, why did he have to quit? Or, if he did do something wrong, should not Mr Hunt quit too? And if, suddenly, Mr Smith went off-piste with the lobbyist Fréd Michel, why didn't Mr Hunt brief him to stay on-piste?

When something looks like fish and smells like fish, usually it is fish. The public, tired of wriggling and sleazy old-school networks looks on, cynical but powerless. Perhaps Mr Hunt hasn't resigned because he is still a useful buffer for the PM? Bang goes that cock-up theory then.