Top London 2012 Government official escapes calls for Parliamentary investigation
Wednesday, 13 June 2012
June 13 - Jeremy Hunt, the highest-ranking Government official directly involved in the organisation of London 2012, has escaped calls for him to be investigated over repeated claims that he lied to Parliament over his handling of News Corporation's bid for BSkyB.
The Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport faced a motion from the opposition Labour Party that he be referred for an independent investigation over claims that he misled Parliament and did not take responsibility for his special adviser.
It followed several weeks during which Hunt has faced increasing pressure to step down over allegations of secret deals with Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation during their bid to take over BSkyB.
But the motion was defeated by 290 votes to 252, despite Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg telling Liberal Democrats to abstain, even though they are part of the Coalition Government.
The vote followed a bad tempered debate in the House of Commons in which Labour's Rhondda MP, Chris Bryant, used his speech to call Hunt a liar.
Labour's Deputy Leader, Harriet Harman, said Hunt had failed to take responsibility for his special adviser Adam Smith - who had sent a string of text messages and emails to News Corps' lobbyist Fred Michel.
Hunt objected to the claim, saying that there was a clear distinction between being accused of misleading Parliament and lying – the latter being "something that suggests intent".
But he admitted he may have inadvertently misled Parliament when he claimed in the House of Commons to have released all his correspondence relating to the deal, but insisted he corrected the record at the earliest possible opportunity.
"I have made huge efforts to be transparent and you know that perfectly well," he said.
April 2012: Exclusive - Coe backs Cultural Secretary amidst News Corporation allegations
April 2012: Prime Minister gives full support to Culture Secretary over News Corporation allegations