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Andrew Grice

Andrew Grice: The Culture Secretary is not ready to go without a fight


Last week, Whitehall whispers suggested that David Cameron would delay his first major cabinet reshuffle until the autumn so he could promote Jeremy Hunt, who could not be moved until after the London Olympics.

Last night, speculation was growing that the Prime Minister will have to bring forward the ministerial shake-up and that Mr Hunt could be the victim, after James Murdoch's dramatic evidence to the Leveson Inquiry.

The urbane Culture Secretary will not go down without a fight, and it seems that Mr Cameron wants to give him the chance to answer the charges against him when he appears before the inquiry shortly.

Mr Murdoch's evidence creates a headache for the Prime Minister. The Independent revealed in January last year that both attended a pre-Christmas dinner at the Oxfordshire home of Rebekah Brooks, then chief executive of News International, two days after Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, lost responsibility for the crucial decision on News Corp's bid to buy the 61 per cent of BSkyB it does not own.

Last July, Downing Street denied that Mr Cameron broke the ministerial code at the dinner because "the PM had not been involved in any of the discussions about BSkyB". That was called into question by Mr Murdoch, who said the two men did discuss the matter.

Mr Cameron, who will also give evidence to Leveson soon, is likely to argue that he was not involved in any "inappropriate discussions" on the takeover. But that would put the spotlight back on to Mr Hunt who had a quasi-judicial role – and now has a mountain of questions to answer.