Coffee House

Hunt still hasn’t answered the main question

25 April 2012

In his statement to the House of Commons, I heard no answer from Jeremy
Hunt to the most serious question about his handling of the whole News Corp bid: how did Frederic Michel appear to know what Hunt would say to the Commons before he said it? If he was being given a
steer on what was to be said or any advance sight then it is hard to see how Hunt can remain in post. This is not a matter that can be dealt with by the resignation of a special adviser.

Hunt’s defence — and the Prime Minister’s defence of him — is that the Leveson process must be allowed to play out. But if Hunt cannot answer this question when he faces the
inquiry, his position will become untenable.

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  • pieinthesky

    Maggie, thank you!

    At least you read it!

    Some things do make one ‘sick’…….!

  • Maggie

    Hear! Hear! Pieinthesky. Well said.

  • pieinthesky

    Having seen the HoC broadcasts yesterday, ie PMQ’s and Jeremy Hunt’s statement, and now read two article here, it must be said that The Spectator has taken a nasty shift….. The articles written are clearly promoted by the Labour Party, who are behaving in the most shameful manner, who try to present themselves as if they were totally exempt from any of this debacle.
    I wonder how many of them would have been prepared to account for themselves as Mr. Hunt did? Or to be as forthright, and take it on the chin. Just remember the situations that arose in their shifty 13 years!
    The journalists’ of this and other so called ‘newspapers’ and news magazines, do need investigation themselves, as to honesty in what they write, present, infer and generally think they know something about.
    It is interesting that these so called journalists who like to think and want others to think they know everything, have truthfully investigated ALL the facts, do not put themselves forward as politicians. If this were so, it would surely show us, that they are different and can rise above what they think is, in their little minds, so clearly wrong with the status quo.
    Journalists have as much, if not more, to answer for than politicians. They fill acres of paper every day with half truths and falsifications, with just a touch of reality.
    As to the matter in hand, everyone seems to want to know the answers before those involved have given an account. Such are the depths to which we have sunk, and news papers and other media are guilty of innuendo, sensationalism, out to wreck other people.
    I am no fan of this so called enquiry- a complete waste of money and a platform for jumped up inquisitors, and then what is said is fed to the public before any conclusions.
    They, journalists, and we should remember when you point the finger, three point back at you!! Applies to us all!

  • TomTom

    “I hope the Murdochs gets Sky”

    Murdochs will be cleaned out of Sky and NI

  • Malfleur

    Waiting for Inspector Hound…?

  • Cynic

    Austin Barry – Blair got the fox hunt laws disasterously wrong, so Cameron is truly his heir.

  • salieri


    Quite. And to your last paragraph might I please add: “unlike, for example, the BBC”?

  • telemachus’

    April 25th, 2012 4:15pm
    Thanks verity.
    Frank was right ennui has set in.

  • Maggie

    I hope the Murdochs gets Sky. This story is getting the same old blatantly biased coverage. We are asked to believe that its a scandal for any politician to approve of the Murdochs owning newspapers or television stations. No-one is asking us to consider whether it is also scandalous that another set of politicians plotted, for political reasons, to STOP the Murdochs increasing their holding of their own TV station. Labour and their accomplices are so crazed with hatred that they don’t care about newspapers and TV stations closing down, or people losing their jobs, or how their vindictive behaviour will go down in the city, or what’ll happen to investments in Sky.

    The politically motivated Hunt hoo-ha is ridiculous to anyone not personally involved in the vengeful anti-Murdoch campaign.

  • TomTom

    “who in the big wide world gives a shit about whether Hunt did something or didn’t do something?”

    Most people who have not reached senility still would like Ministers to work for them and not Corporate interests…but these people probably don’t vote for the Banker Party

  • TomTom

    Rhoda, BSkyB runs over the Astra Satellite which is owned by SES in Luxembourg. So it is not a UK broadcaster but an EU one with a licence in one country giving rights to the footprint in the EU. In January the British Government withdrew the licence for PressTV and it was removed from the satellite by BLM in Germany on 3 April.

    You might think satellite broadcasting runs over cable but SES Astra does not.

  • Dimoto

    Archibald 04.03 –

    Quite so.

    In between the ramblings of our favourite QC (asking Murdoch about goings-on in Australia from 1968-73), including inordinate time reviewing autobiographies from the Thatcher era (I Served With Rupert etc), and the skewering of Brown, there must have been a lot on the many sins of “Tone”.

    But the BBC and Sky suddenly found other things to talk about – “growth”, the rain, Chelsea, anything.
    The wall to wall coverage was suddenly suspended just when we got to the juicy bit.

    How they (still) love Tony, the greatest showman of all.

  • Kaiser Otto

    Jeremy Hunt as leadership contender? Yet another heir to Blair more like.

  • DavidDP

    “I’m wondering why the government has a need to interfere in what ought to be a straightforward commercial transaction. There is no monopoly involved, “

    Competition regulation gets involved, rightly, at levels below absolute monopoly. It is possible to act without regard to competitors or customers (ie as a de facto monopoly) with market shares from around 40% upwards, depending on the chracteristics of the market (it’s rare that it happens when shares are so low in fact, but as a filter it’s a good starting point for further analysis, which is often quite complex).

    Fans of free markets should generally be pleased that there is a check on would be monopolists (whether state or private). There is an argument about the level of market influence at which government should get invovled, but the UK has a relatively hands off (and rather world respected) approach to competition law.

  • Geoffrey Dron

    Too many questions not answered. MPs are useless at conducting any examination on the floor of the house and select committees require counsel as in the case of US congressional committees.

    Hunt and Smith must be cross-examined before Leveson – both Robert Kay QC and the learned judge will, I’m sure, have questions aplenty.

  • Fergus Pickering

    Who bets that Murdoch will get BSkyB in the end? And rightly so. Who else could run it better? And who in the big wide world gives a shit about whether Hunt did something or didn’t do something? Now if he’d been shagging right and left THAT would be something.

  • Telemachus

    I am in total accord with Verity that Dave is not prime ministerial calibre and should be replaced ASAP by a strong, more committed, Conservative.

  • Rhoda Klapp

    I’m wondering why the government has a need to interfere in what ought to be a straightforward commercial transaction. There is no monopoly involved, anybody should be able to buy BSkyB if he can afford it. Anybody ought to be able to have a satellite channel. You don’t have to watch it, you don’t have to pay for it. The dirty digger can’t hurt you.

    Why Rhoda, what if the broadcaster were to use the airwaves to exert influence on the UK political scene?

    We’d all be able to see it. Which is more than we can now with all the stuff that goes on behind the scenes.

  • Andy Carpark

    I won’t believe a word of it until David Lindsay pops us to tell us that it is the long-predicted collision between the Trotskyist (Crypto-Zionist) Neocon Anarcho-Primitives and the Palaeo-Entryist wing (Marxist-Leninist) of the 1922 Committee with Alf Roberts’s daughter* still pulling the strings.

    * whoever the hell she is

  • Archibald

    Funny, watched a bit of Murdoch on the BBC, and oddly after the event there seems to be little mention of Brown, and when it has been shown (less than anything else) they have not repeated the bit about the Sun article, which one would have thought Murdoch talking about was a key point, and probably the most animated he got. Still, the Beeb didn’t exactly cover themselves with glory at the time of Gordon’s speech in the commons, so I didn’t expect any balance to the reporting again today, and I wasn’t let down.

  • Private Schultz

    Well said Archibald and TrevorsDen.

  • Archibald

    I wouldn’t want to make this a left/right issue. Indeed, Caroline Lucas, possibly the only true socialist left in the House of Commons, apparently tweeted “No apologist for #Hunt, but bullying, braying & hounding in HoC chamber is disgusting – wouldn’t be permitted anywhere else”
    While I disagree with her on many issues, she’s one of the few honest operators in that place who says what she thinks and what she thinks what benefits her constituents, rather than spout a load of spun garbage that the Labour party (and the others, but Labour have the best/worst PR machine) spew out day after day. Someone would do well to advise Miliband and Balls to pick up a copy of Aesop’s Fables and read “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”. It might give some MPs an insight into why there is such apathy to the three main parties.

  • lescam

    Goodbye Hunt. Goodbye Cameron. Goodbye Tory “government”.

    Goodbye to the whole stinking, corrupt, lying lot of you.

    Compared with this “government”, Rupert Murdoch and News Corp are a haven of truth, goodness and integrity.

    On your bike, Cameron. With your lying friends.

  • TrevorsDen

    Archibald – you are probably the only sane one present.
    I seem to remember a LibDem Cabinet Minister who proudly boasted that he would NOT let the SKY take over go through.

    He was not sacked despite his significant level of advice.

    Did I not catch Forsyth’s ultimate boss complaining at Levenson the other day that Cameron did NOT ring up the Telegraph editor every day to curry favour? The nasty piece of work seemed most sniffy about nthat.

  • toco

    Congratulations James you must have landed a job with the BBC’s ‘Today’ programme.Before going over to West London do ask them if they pay any of their thousands of news hacks through private companies-if they do you could do a Ken Livingstone and avoid tax and National Insurance.As someone who jumps on bandwagons if indeed you have got a job with the champagne socialists your biased reporting will easily allow you to enter the very privileged but undemocratic higher echelons of the once independent BBC.

  • DavidDP

    “Hunt sought and followed independent advice on several occasions, and that advice was often not in favour of the interests of NI, what is the fuss about exactly?”

    Shh – the fact that Hunt always left it to the OFT and OFCOM to analyse the UILs and advise on acceptance or not is not important.

  • Verity

    A putcsh is way overdue. Cameron is a weak, empty (except for greed), self-elevating entity who has no role to play in government. Anyone who has it in them to be a Bullingdon Boy is never going to be fit to serve a country. (The Bullingdon Boys weren’t silly kids. They were young men.)

  • reading

    Witch-hunts demean politicians and lawyers
    Some of the questioning at Levenson enquiry would not be sanctioned in a court of law

  • Tulkinghorn

    I’m with Hunt. Avoid a witch-hunt.

  • Mark

    last night Hunt had full confidence in his adviser.

    last night Hunt confirmed he accepted the Ministerial Code i.e the Minister is responsible

    No-one has heard of “Adam Smith” or has any evidence of him “shouting his mouth off….

    This morning Adam Smith is sacked by Cameron..




  • The Doctor

    When I hear the words “culture secretary”, I reach for my gun.

  • Archibald

    Am I being really stupid here? If Hunt sought and followed independent advice on several occasions, and that advice was often not in favour of the interests of NI, what is the fuss about exactly? And would a special adviser not be aware of words being used? What’s the big deal, I don’t see the issue with some loose form of contact between a huge company and a government when dealing with a decision affecting that big company, it would be more surprising if there wasn’t, and if Hunt wasn’t involved directly and was in any case acting on independent advice, this seems to be a storm largely of the media’s creation. Perhaps someone can explain the problem to me? I certainly don’t expect James too, as to be a bit clearer about the issues and facts I think may make this steaming pile of manure he is raking up into little more than a weak fart.

  • salieri

    One possible answer to the question is that they both knew the truth.

  • Austin Barry

    Kuhne, Laws, Fox, why not Hunt?

    It’s almost like the unfolding of some metaphysical joke: Fox Hunt Laws lead to Tory downfall after they find themselves in Kuhne pickle.

    There is a God – and he likes the odd jape.

  • patrickinken

    How did Frederic Michel “appear to know” what Hunt would say to the Commons before he said it?

    Maybe in the same way that Frederic Michel appeared to speak to Jeremy/ JH even when he didn’t.

    I think that there needs to be some evidence that Frederic Michel had actual knowledge of the substance of the decision as opposed to knowledge of the practicalities of the making of a statement to the Commons, such as when a statement would be made.

  • Paul Danon

    This is the opportunity to abolish the department.

  • ROJ

    Looks like time’s up for the Tory party’s version of Nick Clegg.

  • Vulture

    Deeply, deeply unimpressive.

    Hunt gave every impression of being a shifty liar because he is a shifty liar.

    You know what is most shameful? That these sleazy scumbags stand there and tell bare-faced lies knowing that they will get away with it because the British public will let them.

    We are governed by corrupt, immoral thieves.

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