Speaker Bercow struggled to keep the house quiet for Jeremy Hunt’s statement. He resisted earlier calls for his resignation, saying that ’this is not the time to jump on a political bandwagon’ and the public will want to hear Lord Leveson’s verdict.
Speaker Bercow struggled to keep the house quiet for Jeremy Hunt’s statement. He resisted earlier calls for his resignation, saying that ‘this is not the time to jump on a political bandwagon’ and the public will want to hear Lord Leveson’s verdict.
He said that he ‘strictly followed due process, seeking the advice of independent regulators…and on careful consideration acting on that advice’ and said that claims that it was ‘categorically not the case’ that News Corp had a ‘back-channel’ of communication with Downing Street.
The incident has, however, claimed one victim and Hunt announced the resignation of his spad, Adam Smith. Hunt said that Smith accepts that he ‘overstepped the mark’ but did so ‘unintentionally’ and is someone of ‘integrity and decency.
Hunt distanced himself from Smith, saying that he ‘only saw transcripts yesterday' and that they 'did not influence [his] decisions.’
Harman was the first to respond saying that Hunt is responsible for the actions of his special advisers, and that the ‘reality was that he wasn’t judging this bid, he was backing it.’ Hunt said that Harman’s response was ‘disappointing’ and showed a lack of willingness to transcend party divides, accusing Labour of cosying up to News Corp.
Bercow asked Hunt to respond to the questions posed to him. Hunt denied that he was 'backing the bid', and re-iterated that he had sought the advice of independent regulators. He added that email evidence confirmed that Hunt had no knowledge of the inappropriate emails between News Corp and his adviser.
Tom Watson asked if Hunt is really trying to claim that all of these texts and emails are the work of 'one rogue adviser', Hunt refused to be drawn in by the rhetoric, saying again that they all needed to wait for the outcome of the Leveson inquiry.
'Doesn't this just prove that when posh boys are in trouble, they sack the servant?' Dennis Skinner heckled. Hunt responded by repeating his regret at Smith's resignation.
Hunt started look even more flustered when asked again about how much he knew about Adam Smith's communications with News Corps. He said that he authorised Smith to talk to News Corp but didn't know about the 'volume' or the 'tone' of that communication. He repeatedly insisted that he made 'four decisions that Murdoch did not want.'