Harriet Harman MP, Labour's Deputy Leader, has accused the Prime Minister of "tearing up" the Ministerial Code by not referring Jeremy Hunt to the independent investigator on the Minsterial Code. In a statement she said:
Jeremy Hunt has broken the Ministerial Code and misled Parliament. It is not acceptable that these rules have been broken and we will call a vote insisting that Jeremy Hunt's breaches of the Code are referred to the Independent Adviser on Ministerial Interests ... When David Cameron came into power, he upgraded the Code and he said he was going to have higher standards in public office. Today those words ring hollow - he has just torn up the Code.
The Conservative MP Michael Fallon has denied that the Government's decision to back Jeremy Hunt just 25 minutes after he finished giving evidence at the Leveson Inquiry was "a little hasty".
He told ITV Daybreak that there was no doubt that the Culture Secretary "sympathised" with the News Corp bid for BSkyB, but that the issue at stake was whether he "put his views aside".
He also said that the Government's u-turn on the charity tax yesterday showed it "can listen".
The deputy leader of the Labour party Harriet Harman has said she will call a vote in the House of Commons on whether Jeremy Hunt's actions should be referred to the independent investigator on the ministerial code.
She told BBC Breakfast that Mr Hunt "broke the ministerial code" and "as far as David Cameron is concerned [that] is perfectly acceptable".
"It is not acceptable to us that these rules should have been broken and we are going to call a vote on it in the House of Commons."
Labour's deputy leader Harriet Harman has accused the Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt of making "a political decision" about the BSkyB bid when he was supposed to be acting impartially.
In an interview in ITV Daybreak, she accused the Prime Minister of "tearing up the ministerial code" by not referring Mr Hunt to a government ombudsman. She also claimed the Chancellor George Osborne acted as a "political strategist" over the affair.
- Daily Telegraph: Following his testimony to the Leveson Inquiry yesterday, it is clear Mr Hunt was being disingenuous. He may not have broken the letter of the ministerial code by directly misleading Parliament, but he shattered its spirit.
- Guardian: Though he did not resign, Mr Hunt is clearly finished as culture secretary. How could he possibly deal with a wide range of news companies in future, let alone receive Lord Justice Leveson's findings, still less spearhead legislation?
- Financial Times: The prime minister’s forbearance has not helped Mr Hunt, who emerges a diminished figure, his authority undermined by his closeness to the Murdochs. Apart from acting as a human shield for Mr Cameron, it is hard to see what purpose he now serves.
Jeremy Hunt has faced stinging criticism over his performance at the Leveson Inquiry, adding further pressure on the Culture Secretary.Read the full story ›
So, Jeremy Hunt gets an immediate judgement. Not from Lord Justice Leveson, but from the Prime Minister. And that matters. The Parliament recess and the Jubilee also gives breathing space.
Responding to Jeremy Hunt's evidence to the Leveson Inquiry, Harriet Harman MP, Labour's Shadow Culture, Media and Sport Secretary, said:
Jeremy Hunt should never have been given the quasi-judicial role in the first place as he was biased in favour of the bid. David Cameron knew this to be the case because of the memo Hunt had sent him where he had expressed clear support for the bid.
Jeremy Hunt should not be in his job now as he has broken the ministerial code and misled Parliament. At the very least, David Cameron should refer him to the independent adviser on ministerial interests.
David Cameron said he would stand up for high standards but he is sweeping this matter under the carpet.
Conservative MP Louise Mensch has welcomed the Prime Minister's decision not to refer Jeremy Hunt to the independent adviser on the ministerial code.
Of course the PM won't be referring Jeremy Hunt as there was, obviously, no breach of the min code. Once again, Labour overshoots the mark.
A Downing Street spokesperson said: "Jeremy Hunt’s evidence has shown that he acted properly while he was responsible for the BSkyB bid. He took independent advice at every turn, as well as a number of decisions which were against News Corporation's wishes.
"As the Permanent Secretary of the department made clear, Jeremy Hunt set up a process which left him with a ‘vanishingly small’ chance to ‘manipulate’ the bid for ‘political or other ends’.
"There are some lessons to be learned from this process and that’s why the Cabinet Secretary has already written to all departments regarding the way quasi-judicial decisions are taken. The Prime Minister will not be referring Jeremy Hunt to Sir Alex Allan."