Hunt safe for now; Murdoch done for day
Not sure that between them Ed Miliband or Harriet Harman landed the killer blow on Jeremy Hunt. There will be plenty of people wondering why it took 24 hours to dump a special adviser if his actions so obviously went beyond what Jeremy Hunt had sanctioned and way outside what was proper. There wouldn’t be much to discuss, you might think, about the improper nature of releasing market sensitive information to News Corp early.
There will be an appetite amongst News International’s rival newspapers to keep at this story when many of them were so clearly committed to stopping the bid by News Corp for the 61% they didn’t own of BSkyB. All that said Jeremy Hunt’s immediate chances of survival are looking a bit better than I would’ve guessed this morning.
The edict from the PM to Jeremy Heywood to write to special advisers reminding them not to behave like Adam Smith leaves you a little open-jawed. If it is possible that any special adviser thinks it’s proper to write the sort of texts and emails that Adam Smith did they are probably unreachable through normal communications.
Back at Leveson, Rupert Murdoch has described David Cameron crossing the Med to see him on his yacht off a Greek island in 2008 as “part of the democratic process” and “part of the game” – albeit a part that Rupert Murdoch says he can’t completely remember.
Glorious contradiction (to my ears) as Rupert Murdoch, having repeatedly said he never discussed issues for commercial advantage with Prime Ministers of any colour, says, on the BBC licence fee, that he didn’t raise it with David Cameron because he’d been through that again and again with all the previous Prime Ministers and they all said they hated the BBC but carried on giving them the licence fee. Sounds like quite a few lively discussions about his interests which don’t appear in the written statement or this oral testimony.
Earlier Rupert Murdoch grumbled in his testimony that the Times hadn’t bought the MPs expenses information when it was offered to them. Has no-one in his empire told him that Rebekah Brooks at the Sun turned it down as well?
There’s been some debate behind the scenes about whether this evidence session with Rupert Murdoch might continue into tomorrow. Lord Justice Leveson has just ruled that the session will do just that. Rupert Murdoch said “thank you for your consideration” … but a little earlier Dan Sabbagh of The Guardian reports hearing himsay to his team as he left Leveson for the lunch interval: “Let’s get him to get this f***ing thing over with today.” Mr Murdoch started his session categorically denying that he resented the Leveson Inquiry happening at all.
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