Monday, April 30, 2012

#Leveson : What Uneducated Cameron Told David Skinner

4.04pm: Labour's Dennis Skinner asks why Hunt has got better employment rights than other workers in Britain.

Cameron says Skinner should retire and take his pension.

4.02pm: Labour's Chris Bryant asks Cameron to accept that Hunt's adviser gave News Corporation advance information about market-sensitive announcements before they were made in parliament.
Cameron says that Bryant himself used confidential information which he had obtained as a participant to the Leveson inquiry to make false allegations about Cameron in the Commons last week. If Bryant had any honour, he would apologise, he says.

4.00pm: Labour's Tom Watson asks Cameron if he will offer to provide Leveson with copies of the text messages sent by Treasury special advisers to News Corporation's lobbyists.

Cameron says Leveson can request whatever evidence he wants.

4.00pm: David Davies, a Conservative, asks if Cameron has ever phoned a newspaper proprietor to offer his services as a godparent, or to offer to hold a pyjama party. Cameron says Davies puts that well.

3.57pm: Julian Lewis, a Conservative, asks if Cameron can assure people we are getting value for money from the independent adviser on ministerial interests in these "cash-strapped times". (Sir Alex Allan is paid £30,000 a year, and has not carried out any inquiries.)

Yes, says Cameron, he can give that assurance.

3.56pm: Peter Bone, a Conservative, says he checked with his constituency office (Mrs Bone) to see if any voters were complaining about the culture department. There have been hundreds of complaints, he says, but only about Harry Redknapp not becoming England manager.

3.55pm: Cameron says that it would be easy to say "off you go" every time a minister got in trouble. But it is important to get the facts, and to allow natural justice to take its course. That should happen more often, he says.

3.54pm: Ben Bradshaw, the Labour former culture secretary, says Hunt did not always follow the advice of Ofcom, because Ofcom said the BSkyB bid should be referred to the Competition Commission.

Cameron says that if Hunt had not indicated his willingess to accept undertakings in lieu as an alternative, he would have been liable to judicial review.

3.52pm: Peter Lilley, a Conservative, says it would be sensible to allow Leveson to establish the facts.

Cameron says he agrees. If he asked the independent adviser to carry out an inquiry now, that would duplicate the work being carried out by Leveson. The independent adviser and Leveson would be looking at the same set of papers.

3.51pm: Cameron says he consulted Sir Jeremy Heywood, the cabinet secretary, about the right process to follow in this case.

3.49pm: John Whittingdale, the Conservative chairman of the culture committee, asks Cameron to confirm that he will have a proper inquiry if there are any questions about Hunt's conduct left unanswered after he has given evidence to Leveson.

Cameron says that of course he will give that assurance. The questioning at Leveson is more rigorous than it would be under a civil service inquiry. And if evidence comes forward suggesting that Hunt did break the ministerial code, he will order an inquiry, he says. But at the moment no such evidence exits.

3.47pm: Labour's Margaret Hodge said Hunt told MPs on Wednesday that his permanent secretary had "authorised" Adam Smith to play the role he did.

On Thursday the permanent secretary refused to confirm this when giving evidence to her committee.

But on Friday the permanent secertary wrote to Hodge saying he was just "content" with the arrangement.

Cameron says he saw the permanent secretary giving evidence. Hodge is wrong, he says.

3.42pm: Cameron says Miliband is "weak and wrong".
Labour still has not apologised for 15 years of pyjama parties, he says.
On Hunt misleading MPs, he says Hunt gave a full answer in September 2011.
On the role of the special adviser, Cameron says Adam Smith, the adviser, has said that his contacts went beyond what was authorised.
And on Hunt taking responsibility for his special adviser, he asks who took responsibility for advisers like Charlie Whelan when Labour was in power.
He also says that Harriet Harman called for Hunt's resignation only 23 minutes after the Leveson evidence was published, even though she had not read it.
Today we have learned something about Miliband, he says. "Bad judgment, rotten politics, plain wrong." That is something Miliband will regret, he says.

3.38pm: Ed Miliband says Hunt was in clear breach of the ministerial code.
This matters because we need a government that stands up for ordinary people, he says.
Lord Justice Leveson said he was not the judge of the ministerial code. Leveson is doing his job. It is time Cameorn did his, Miliband says.
Miliband identifies the three alleged breaches of the ministerial code.
First, Hunt told MPs he was revealing all his department's exchanges with News Corporation. But he left out the Adam Smith contacts, he says.
Second, News Corporation was given confidential information before it was disclosed to the Commons about the BSkyB takeover.
Thirdly, Hunt is claiming his special adviser was "on a freelance mission". But is Cameron really reduced to the News of the Word defence - one rogue person, acting alone. If Hunt is that clueless, he should be sacked anyway.
The special adviser had to go to protect Hunt. And Hunt has to stay to protect Cameron, he says.
Cameron is "too close to a powerful few, out of touch with everybody else" more