Cameron backs Culture Secretary

The Prime Minister said it was right to give Jeremy Hunt the job even though an email the Culture Secretary sent him showed he backed the Murdochs' bid for BSkyB.

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Smith drawn into a 'web of manipulation'

Mr Stephens said he believed Mr Smith had been drawn into a "web of manipulation" in his dealings with News Corp.

Lord Justice Leveson said the episode was a calamity for the department and the special adviser.

You have an able, highly regarded young man who isn't in any sense mischievous, who is very keen to do the right thing but has got into a degree of contact, in the context of a small office. How has this happened?

Mr Stephens said:

How it happened I don't know, but the judgment I have made is that, sadly, Mr Smith personally, I believe against his will and intentions, was drawn into almost what seems to me to be a sort of web of manipulation and exaggeration, and was drawn inadvertently beyond what he intended to do or what he wanted to do. But, unfortunately, he was beyond it.

Hunt told e-mails 'went beyond what was acceptable'

Jonathan Stephens, permanent secretary at the DCMS, said Mr Smith was considered before the emails emerged to be someone who "understood and would abide by his proper role".

He told the inquiry the better the special adviser, the more reliable a guide they were to a Secretary of State's view.

"I think he was well tuned in to the Secretary of State's thinking," he said.

He went on:

The first suggestion that contacts went beyond what was proper was April 24 with the release of emails from Fred Michel and this was the first occasion I recall mention of Michel by name.

The following morning I told the Secretary of State I thought the number, extent, depth and tone of contacts supported by those emails went beyond what was acceptable.


Cameron: Not possible to let Cable continue ruling on the BSkyB bid

David Cameron has said he was right to hand over responsibility on ruling over the BSkyB takeover bid from Vince Cable to Jeremy Hunt:

He did act impartially because he took independent advice at every stage and he followed the independent advice at every stage so it was right to give him the job.

As I say I hadn't wanted to give anybody the job, I'd wanted Vince Cable, the existing Business Secretary, to go on doing the job but that wasn't possible.

– David Cameron on ITV1's This Morning

Cameron defends Hunt's handling of BSkyB bid

Prime Minister David Cameron has defended the Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt's handling of the BSkyB bid in an interview on ITV1's This Morning:

He had said on the record things about BSkyB and Murdoch which were more powerful in a way than the note he wrote me.

I asked the Cabinet Secretary and the Cabinet Secretary consulted lawyers about whether it was right to give him that job.

The key thing was it wasn't what he had said in the past it was how he was going to do the job and I think if you look at how he did the job he asked for independent advice at every stage and he took that independent advice and he did it in a thoroughly proper way.

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