CULTURE Secretary Jeremy Hunt was given a torrid time in the Commons over allegations he helped the Murdochs with their attempt to take over BSkyB when he should have been an impartial judge.
In a statement he insisted that he dealt with News Corporation’s bid to buy BSkyB with “scrupulous fairness”.
But the resignation of his special adviser Adam Smith – who admitted that he “went too far” in communications with the company’s chief lobbyist Frederic Michel – led to further derision.
Labour MP Dennis Skinner noted that “posh boys sack their servants” when they are in trouble. Labour said that evidence released by the Leveson Inquiry indicated that Mr Hunt had breached the ministerial code, and urged David Cameron to refer the case to his independent adviser on ministers’ conduct, Sir Alex Allen.
Labour said the e-mails showed Mr Hunt acted as a “back-channel” for the Murdochs, passed secret information to News Corp, and misled parliament over the extent of his contacts with the company at a time when he held a quasi- judicial responsibility for determining whether the £8 billion bid should go ahead.
But Lord Justice Leveson warned against jumping to conclusions, telling the inquiry: “I am acutely aware from considerable experience that documents such as these cannot always be taken at face value, and can frequently bear more than one interpretation.”
Mr Hunt told the Commons: “Although Adam Smith accepts that he overstepped the mark on this occasion, I want to say on record that I believe he did so unintentionally.”