Wednesday 30 May 2012

Why Jeremy Hunt is Doomed

Tomorrow, the event Leveson watchers have been anticipating for the last few weeks will arrive, the appearance of Jeremy Hunt at the Leveson Inquiry.  After appearances by his former Special Adviser Adam Smith, his BSkyB predecessor Vince Cable, and his best friend for life and News Corp lobbyist Fred Michel it seems Mr Jay is going to have a lot of difficult questions for Hunt to answer. 
There can be little doubt that among these questions there will be a barrage of questions about his relationship with Fred Michel, the closeness of which was highlighted when the text messages between the two were released to the Leveson Inquiry.  There also remains the more important question of whether or not Hunt misled Parliament when he claimed he had “zero” communication with Fred Michel during the bid process, after his statement was apparently contradicted by a letter written by his permanent secretary, Jonathan Stephens which was seen by the Independent on Sunday.
There’s also further questions about over whether or not he misled Parliament when he told MPs in March 11th 2011 that “We are publishing all the documents relating to all the meetings – all the consultation documents, all the submissions we received, all the exchanges between my department and News Corporation”, when at the end of April 2012 further email exchanges were given to the Leveson Inquiry showing that this was not the case.
Then there’s Adam Smith, the special adviser who was thrown to the lions by Cameron and Hunt in the hope they could sneak by while he was being chewed on.  Ed Miliband claims that Jeremy Hunt broke the ministerial code three times, with calls for Hunt to be investigated other the claims.  Lord Leveson has said he will not rule on whether or not he broke the ministerial code, but no doubt Mr Jay will have plenty to ask Hunt about events surrounding those claims.  It seems that the section of the code that says "The responsibility for the management and conduct of special advisers, including discipline, rests with the Minister who made the appointment" may yet be his undoing.
And today Vince Cable provided the cherry on the top of the Hunt Ruination Cake by telling the Leveson Inquiry that he could not take calls from Fred Michel, the Murdoch lobbyist, and refused to meet James Murdoch because of 'legal risks', a concern that appears to have escaped Jeremy Hunt’s attention, and another issue he’ll get to debate with Mr Jay tomorrow.
So it’s no wonder there’s already rumours of his resignation by the weekend, and with a long and gruelling day ahead of him at the Leveson Inquiry tomorrow he might be thankful for it all to come to an end.
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