No 10: Jeremy Hunt will not face ministerial code inquiry
Published: 31st May 2012 18:11:43
David Cameron has decided not order an inquiry into whether Jeremy Hunt broke the ministerial code after he was grilled at the Leveson Inquiry.
Mr Cameron believes the culture secretary acted properly when he was responsible for Rupert Murdoch's BSkyB takeover bid, Downing Street said.
No 10 added the prime minister would not refer the case to Sir Alex Allen, his adviser on the ministerial code.
Mr Hunt admitted he considered resigning over the BSkyB controversy.
Deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman called the decision not to refer Mr Hunt's case "disgraceful".
Mr Hunt faced more than six hours of questioning on every aspect of his conduct during the bid process.
He was also challenged about text messages between himself and News Corp lobbyist Fred Michel, who he described as "pushy" and "cheeky", and his special adviser Adam Smith, who was forced to quit over his alleged closeness to the Murdoch empire.
Jeremy Hunt considered resigning, but it was his special adviser who lost his job.
If that sounded tough it was at least consistent.
Throughout, the culture secretary has held his adviser's messages were inappropriate but the bid process was fair.
The prime minister appears to agree and is standing by the minister.
There were embarrassments for Hunt, not least jokey texts with James Murdoch about the broadcast regulator Ofcom.
But for the most part it was documents released to the Inquiry that were to blame, not the witness stumbling into admissions.
David Cameron told the Commons the independent adviser on the ministerial code could provide nothing as rigorous as the Inquiry.
Maybe it is no surprise that the prime minister will not now refer Hunt's case to that adviser. Labour say that is a disgrace.
For now at least, though, it appears Hunt's cabinet career has survived his Leveson inquisition.
The inquiry also heard Mr Hunt congratulated James Murdoch on the progress of News Corp's bid - just hours before he was given the power to decide on it.
Mr Hunt admitted he was sympathetic towards News Corp's takeover bid for BSkyB, but said he acted impartially once he was given responsibility for it.
He told the inquiry: "I did think about my own position, but I had conducted the bid scrupulously, and I believed it was possible to demonstrate that, and I decided it wouldn't be appropriate for me to go."
Labour has accused Mr Hunt of misleading Parliament and said he broke the ministerial code, which states that ministers are responsible for the conduct of their special advisers - both reasons, they say, why he should be sacked.
Ms Harman told BBC News: "I think it's frankly deplorable that he should keep in his cabinet someone who has broken the ministerial code, who has misled Parliament, and of course David Cameron should never have given the decision to Jeremy Hunt in the first place.
"He was clearly already biased and I think that not only saying that he's going to stay in the cabinet, but he's not even going to refer him to the independent investigator on ministerial interests for breach of the ministerial code is, frankly, disgraceful."
The current phase of the Leveson inquiry into media ethics is examining the relationship between the press and politicians.
The decision to ask Mr Hunt to oversee the BSkyB bid came in December 2010 after Business Secretary Vince Cable was stripped of responsibilities after telling undercover journalists he had "declared war" on News Corp chief Rupert Murdoch.
The culture secretary told the inquiry he would not have sent the text to Mr Murdoch, which said "Great and congrats on Brussels. Just [regulator] Ofcom to go", had he known he would be given responsibility for the bid later the same day.
The "great and congrats" message was one of a number Mr Hunt exchanged with Mr Murdoch on the afternoon of 21 December 2010 after the executive had tried to contact him by phone.
Mr Hunt also sent a text to Chancellor George Osborne expressing fears the government would "screw up" over its handling of the BSkyB bid as a result of Mr Cable's comments.
He also admitted he had a mobile phone conversation with James Murdoch on 16 November 2010 to hear what was "on his mind at that time" and considered that "appropriate" behaviour.
But referring to a memo on the bid that he sent to Prime Minister David Cameron that month, Mr Hunt said that "apart from informing the prime minister of my views I wasn't actually doing anything about it".
"It was widely known that I was broadly sympathetic towards the bid," he added.
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Harvard CitationBBC News, 2012. No 10: Jeremy Hunt will not face ministerial code inquiry [Online] (Updated 31st May 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1432127/No-10-Jeremy-Hunt-will-not-face-ministerial-code-inquiry [Accessed 23rd Apr 2014]
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With the doors to its brand new £1million training centre officially open, one of the UK's leading apprentice training providers, Bristol based S&B Automotive Academy, is showcasing its world-class facilities by launching a series of foreign student exchanges for the first time in its 41-year history. To get a flavour of what life is like as an apprentice in the UK, the Academy hosted 16 apprentice engineers and bus drivers from the G9 Automotive College in Hamburg, Germany, as part of a Europe-wide vocational training initiative called the ‘Leonardo Programme’ with support from the European Social Fund. In a reciprocal arrangement, S&B will be sending nine apprentices to Germany during February 2012 so that they can get an appreciation of life in the automotive industry on the Continent. A further three German exchange groups are being planned for next year. Designed to assist the development of vocational skills and training across Europe, including work placements for trainees, the Leonardo Programme has a budget of €1.75bn, which is helping to encourage UK organisations to work with their counterparts abroad. In what is expected to be another challenging year for employers in the UK automotive sector, S&B’s Chief Executive, Jon Winter, claims that the exchange initiative will bring many benefits to the Academy and its apprentices: “In a world of global automotive brands, it’s important for our learners to understand the international context of the industry they have chosen to make their career. This new exchange programme will enable apprentices and Academy staff alike to achieve a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities within the automotive arena in Europe. With the Academy’s influence also extending to the USA and Asia, there’s every possibility that this initiative could move further afield in the future.” Continued Winter: “The need for skilled technicians across the world is on the increase and we actively encourage our apprentices to look at broader horizons during their training. Many of them have already learned the phrase ‘Vorsprung durch Gelehrtheit’, quite simply, ‘Advancement through learning.” In the 2010/11 academic year, S&B doubled the number of successful Apprenticeships over the previous year with some 350 apprentices graduating from the Academy. At the same time, achievement levels reached an all-time high with an overall success rate of 85%. For those learners on the Advanced Apprenticeship three-year programme, success rates were even higher, at over 98%. PHOTO CAPTION: As part of their exchange visit, S&B Automotive Academy arranged for the German apprentices to visit Hampshire bus operator, Bluestar, at its Barton Park depot. The students are pictured with S&B’s Andy West (3rd right) and Steve Prewett, Bluestar’s Area Engineering Manager (2nd right). Ends http://www.sandbaa.com
The family of a man who died, despite seven 999 calls for an ambulance, said he was failed in his "moment of need".