Friday, June 01, 2012

Leveson: Jeremy Hunt Round-up

I don't know which is the more pathetic, the general state of British politics, or Jeremy Hunt's performance before the Leveson inquiry.

And Hunt's "It was all Adam Smith's fault" was totally beneath contempt. Not to mention incredible.

All in all, Hunt convinced no-one, unless of course your name is Cameron, whose reaction to all this, is about as convincing as was Hunt himself.

Is Jeremy Hunt a scoundrel or a fool? He has been driven to absurdity

The culture secretary's defence is straight out of Lewis Carroll. David Cameron will soon have to explain why he appointed him
Brian Cathcart
31 May 2012

There is an old joke about a gamekeeper confronting a poacher who is heading home at dawn with a deer over his shoulder. "Aha!" exclaims the gamekeeper. "Caught you redhanded!" The poacher, all innocent surprise, replies: "What do you mean?" "I mean that, on your shoulder," says the gamekeeper, pointing. The poacher swivels his eyes towards his own shoulder, affects to see the dead animal for the very first time and, with an expression of horror, thrusts it away crying: "Yeugh! How did that get there?"

Jeremy Hunt's performance at the Leveson inquiry called that story to mind. You had to wonder what the judge made of it all, since down the years in the criminal courts he has no doubt seen his share of poacher types offering improbable defences.

Here was a secretary of state, no less, telling the inquiry that he did not know in 2010 what the term "quasi-judicial" meant, and asserting that when he was given responsibility for News Corporation's BSkyB bid he did not realise that meetings should be minuted by officials.

Here was a witness who professed not to see that his own "broad sympathy" with News Corp might, as a matter of probity, disqualify him from responsibility for the bid in just the way that Vince Cable's "acute bias" had done – even when he was reminded that his "sympathy" extended to reckless behind-the-scenes lobbying of the prime minister.

He also had no idea, he insisted, that phone hacking was "a volcano that was about to erupt", yet if he had read the 2010 report on hacking by his parliamentary colleagues on the Commons media select committee he would have found more than enough evidence of a corporate cover-up to worry a scrupulous minister.

The inquiry also heard that Hunt's special adviser, Adam Smith, was so perfect, conscientious and in tune with the minister's thinking that he might have qualified as his second brain, yet Hunt was unaware of the intensive, indiscreet two-way traffic of information between Smith and News Corp.

Remember, the inquiry has already had to swallow the assertion that a welter of emails from News Corp's PR man Fred Michel referring to his frequent, close contacts with "Jeremy", "Jeremy Hunt" and "JH" did not in fact relate to the man we know as Jeremy Hunt. More

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Murdoch's men on the inside

As Jeremy Hunt is rocked by new revelations at Leveson Inquiry, George Osborne is sucked into row over BSkyB deal
01 June 2012

The Chancellor, George Osborne, has become the latest minister to be dragged into the BSkyB takeover scandal as evidence emerged suggesting that he played a behind-the-scenes role in the Government's handling of the £8bn bid.

Records retrieved from the phone of the Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, show him and Mr Osborne exchanging text messages in the hours after anti-Murdoch remarks by Vince Cable were made public. Mr Hunt texted the Chancellor asking to talk about the takeover, saying he was "seriously worried we are going to screw this up". Mr Osborne texted back: "Hope you like the solution" – and then Mr Hunt was handed responsibility for deciding on the bid.

The revelation makes it more likely that Mr Osborne will be made to give evidence to the Leveson Inquiry and have to reveal the contents of his own texts and emails exchanged with the Murdoch empire. Other emails released yesterday show the depth of concern both in Downing Street and in Mr Hunt's own department about whether the Culture Secretary's previous noisy support for the Murdochs was clear evidence of bias and must rule him out of handling the deal. Mr Hunt can be seen emailing the Prime Minister's chief of staff in the hours after the row broke out.

Yesterday, David Cameron made clear he was staking his reputation on Mr Hunt being cleared by the Leveson Inquiry after the Culture Secretary gave more than five hours of evidence explaining his handling of the bid. Downing Street said the Prime Minister had no intention of calling an inquiry into whether Mr Hunt had broken the Ministerial Code and dismissed Labour claims that the Culture Secretary had misled Parliament.

But the position relies on Lord Justice Leveson agreeing that Jeremy Hunt was not aware of the extent and nature of the contact between his special adviser Adam Smith and the News Corp lobbyist Fr├ęd Michel when he produces his final report.

Mr Cameron will also come under pressure from Labour who last night said it was deplorable that Mr Hunt would not face a government investigation under the code. More

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Hunt defied advice on BSkyB bid

Jeremy Hunt defied government legal advice by communicating privately with James Murdoch about the BSkyB takeover bid, the Leveson Inquiry heard.
By Robert Winnett and Rowena Mason
31 May 2012

Documents before the inquiry showed that the Culture Secretary sent a series of text messages to the News Corp executive indicating his apparent support for the takeover; at one point congratulating him after the bid was approved by the EU.

He admitted that he continued to communicate privately with Mr Murdoch despite recommendations from his department’s lawyers on at least two occasions that he should not express opinions on the controversial £8 billion bid.

Despite the admissions, Downing Street yesterday cleared Mr Hunt of any wrongdoing within minutes of the evidence session finishing.

The Prime Minister expressed his confidence in the Secretary of State, who will not be referred to an independent adviser over claims he broke the ministerial code of conduct.

Labour said that the Culture Secretary had “lied” to Parliament and reiterated calls for his resignation. More and short video.


Anonymous said...

Comment BenCaute
23 November 2012 7:36PM

Scene: a break out room in Brussels.

Tea lady: Would vous lark a drenk, monsieur Cameronh?

Dave: ah, yes, excellent. Tea please, dear. And can I commend you on your 70's comedy French accent? Makes me feel right at home here.

Tea lady: ah am very sorry monsieur, but all ze tea is gone. We 'ad to give it to Deutsche Bank.

Dave: oh, I see yer game. Right, how's about you give me tea and in exchange I give you 1bn quid extra for the EU budget and, er, Gibraltar.

Tea lady: mais monsieur, zis is irrelevant. Ah do not 'ave any tea.

Dave: Gosh you're tough. Ok, calm down dear, keep the tea, just don't touch the face, kay?

And so the good news just kept on coming.

Himself said...


Good morning Maren.

I never think to read the comments on Rowson cartoons, another first.