Hunt acted 'wisely and fairly' says Cameron

 

David Cameron has defended his refusal to launch an investigation into Jeremy Hunt - insisting the Culture Secretary acted “wisely and fairly” and had given “a good account of himself”.

Mr Hunt held on to his job after Downing Street said his evidence to the Leveson Inquiry on Thursday showed he “acted properly” in his handling of the News Corporation bid for BSkyB.

But the Prime Minister is under pressure to launch an investigation into claims that his Cabinet colleague breached the ministerial code.

He also faces questions about his own judgment in appointing Mr Hunt to adjudicate on the proposed takeover despite knowing of his personal sympathies for the Murdoch media empire.

But despite the emergence, in evidence disclosed to Leveson, of pro-bid text messages sent by Mr Hunt on the day he was handed responsibility, Mr Cameron said he had acted entirely properly.

“The advice I was given was that what mattered was not what Jeremy Hunt had said publicly or privately but how he was going to conduct himself during the bid,” he told BBC1's Andrew Marr Show.

“That's how I think we should judge him: did he adjudicate this bid wisely and fairly?

“And he did. He took legal advice at every stage, and he followed that legal advice and he did many things that were not in the interests of the Murdochs or BSkyB and that side of things.

“And I think he gave a good account of himself to the Leveson Inquiry, he's given a good account of himself to Parliament, and I think that's the key point.”

Mr Cameron said he had “looked carefully” at pro-Murdoch public statements made by Mr Hunt and taken legal advice before transferring bid responsibility to him from Vince Cable.

The Business Secretary was stripped of the media role after telling undercover reporters posing as constituents that he had “declared war” on media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

Mr Hunt sent a memo to Number 10 while Mr Cable was in charge, warning that he risked putting the Government on “the wrong side” of media policy.

“I looked carefully at what Jeremy Hunt had said publicly,” Mr Cameron said.

“I took the advice of the Cabinet Secretary, who took legal advice about it, and what he said publicly was more effusive, more powerful than anything he'd said privately, and on that basis I gave him the job.”

He added: “He ran it very well and, I think, reached the right conclusions.”

Mr Cameron said Mr Hunt was “the right person” to remain in charge of making a success of the London 2012 Olympics but sidestepped the question of whether he would remain in post after that.

Asked if Mr Hunt was safe in his job for at least the rest of the year, Mr Cameron said: “He's got a very important job to do.”

Labour is to use its opposition day debate on Wednesday June 13 to demand that an inquiry into Mr Hunt's actions is launched by Sir Alex Allan, the Prime Minister's adviser on the ministerial code.

Senior Conservative Bernard Jenkin has also entered the row by renewing his calls for Sir Alex to be given the power to stage inquiries without the Prime Minister's permission.

Mr Jenkin chairs the Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) which is preparing to “consider the matter again” after recess, he warned.

Labour believes Mr Hunt misled Parliament twice about his role in the bid for BSkyB and must also take responsibility for the actions of his special adviser Adam Smith who was forced to quit when a slew of damaging emails were released showing close contact with News Corporation lobbyist Fred Michel.

In a move that puts further pressure on Mr Cameron to call in Sir Alex, the Liberal Democrats indicated that their MPs may be free to vote with Labour.

"No decision has been taken about the Opposition Day motion," a spokesman said about any whipping operation as some of the party's MPs said they believed there should be a probe.

"It is a matter for the Prime Minister to decide how to handle issues of discipline concerning Conservative ministers," the spokesman added.

MP Adrian Sanders told The Observer: "The public will accept the verdict from the person who is supposed to investigate these issues far more readily than it will the verdict of the Prime Minister. What is the point of having an adviser on the ministerial code if you never use him?"

Lorely Burt said: "I thought he (Mr Hunt) should have referred himself, quite honestly, but he lost that opportunity."

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
i100

Other places that have held independence referendums
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
news

Arts and Entertainment
Blossoming love: Colin Firth as Stanley and Emma Stone as Sophie, in 'Magic in the Moonlight'
film

Actors star in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
News
peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur
film

It scooped up an unprecedented 11 Academy Awards when it was first remade in 1959

News
news

Watch this commuter wage a one-man war against the Circle Line
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
lifeShould we feel guilty about keeping cats inside?
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

Arts and Entertainment
Maxine Peake plays Hamlet at Manchester's Royal Exchange
theatreReview: Maxine Peake brings emotional ferocity to Shakespeare's starring part
Travel
travel

...and the perfect time to visit them

Sport
Jonas Gutierrez (r) competes with Yaya Toure (l)
football

Newcastle winger reveals he has testicular cancer - and is losing his trademark long hair as a result

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Project Manager (technical, applications, infrastructure)

£55000 - £60000 Per Annum + benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: IT Proj...

SEN Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Birmingham: English teacher required! Warwicksh...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant Birmingham

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: The SThree group is a world lea...

HR Assistant - Kent - £25,000

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Coordinator - Kent - Up to £25,00...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week