Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Flashback March 2011: Hunt on Camera

Hunt “Undermined” Whole OFT Structure

Guido has been talking to a former Office of Fair Trading Principle Case Officer who is not confident Hunt can survive this as it brings into question their whole organisation:

“The first thing with mergers and acquisitions is that it is absolutely key to keep the parties at arms length. The OFT is a non government agency, it has a director general who is above the politics so that the BIS cannot lean on them. In practical terms we all know it happens, but to have it so clearly in writing undermines the whole system. It’s a nightmare for the whole structure of the agency.”


Even if there was no contact with “JH” and the News Corp lobbyist directly, the Culture Secretary’s adviser Adam Smith was obviously communicating heavily and the emails are littered with accurate reports of events before they happened. Direct contact or not, these emails are just two examples of both these key OFT rules being broken.

UPDATE: Hunt’s statement will apparently say that the emails are inaccurate and that he wants to set the record straight on the stand. He seems to be gearing up to play the no direct contact angle. Hard to prove that his office was not acting on his behalf…

The Full Hunt Emails

Exhibit KRM 18 is out.

Happy Hunting…

UPDATE:

Does this sound like a “completely transparent, impartial and fair” process?

UPDATE II: Harman calls for Hunt’s head. Probably buying him some time…

UPDATE III: Hunt’s people kicking back hard. Saying he will defend himself rigorously on his own outing on the stand and has no intention of resigning.

Hunt the Emails

Jeremy Hunt told Parliament in March this year: “at every stage of this process we have sought to be completely transparent, impartial and fair.” Apart from that bit where Cable “declared war”.

At the Lobby briefing this morning Christopher Hope of the Telegraph asked No. 10 whether there had been any inappropriate communication between the Murdochs and Hunt. The reply was “no”. 

This afternoon from we learn that Hunt’s people were sending briefings, updates and supportive words about the bid to Murdoch’s men. The cache of emails will be released at 4pm – there could well be a killer line. Someone who has seen files declares that they are “devastating”. The hunt is on…

UPDATE: Spokesman for PM says he has full confidence in Jeremy Hunt. The hare is running.

Labour Star Lord Winston Slams Party For Choosing Ken

Labour’s second most famous backer Lord Winston has followed the lead of Alan Sugar and slammed Ken. Talking on the Daily Politics he questioned how the party had managed to select Livingstone. Just a week ago Lord Winston was the face of the Labour Party’s Election Broadcast. If he isn’t backing Ken, then why should any Labour supporter?

Meanwhile Ken has today promised to release all of his earnings, and those of Silveta, and the tax he has paid, signed off by an accountant. There are rumours of avian swine sightings too. At least he admits that his last figures were a load of…

Video via Liar Politicians

James Murdoch Skewers Hunt

James Murdoch has given the British establishment another lesson in mid-Atlantic business speak this morning. The long drawn out discussion has thrown up some interesting snippets so far. Not least was the discussion around a Christmas dinner foolishly attended by the Prime Minister at Rebekah Brooks’ house, which Guido broke a day before the Guardian claimed the scoop. You read it right here first…

Murdoch Jr. confessed that the BSkyB bid had come up at said dinner: “It was a tiny side conversation, it was not a discussion.” Which is somewhat different to what government spinners have said previously. A nervous No.10 will be thinking it could have been a lot worse, but this is still a potential breach of the Ministerial Code as Labour pointed out at the time.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt was not so lucky though. Murdoch coughed that Hunt was essentially his back-channel point man for the deal after Vince Cable made clear that a meeting was not going to happen. The chief inquisitor Mr Jay called him Hunt a “cheerleader” and his statements made to the Commons on the matter are looking a little shaky this afternoon…

UPDATE: Rumour reaches Guido that correspondence between Hunt, his SpAds and the Murdochs in regard to BSkyB will be published by the inquiry later. It is said to be very bad news for Hunt.

UPDATE II: Hundreds of pages of emails will be released covering conversations with Hunt’s staff and Murdoch staff. At 4pm…

Powell Departs

After Guido suggested here last week that it was rather odd that a member of the Labour Party Executive board and deputy Chief of Staff to the leader had managed to breeze into the candidacy for a nominally safe Labour seat, Lucy Powell has resigned from both her roles. Funny that she didn’t think it was appropriate to do so before her stitched up selection…

Russell Brands May

Russell Brand has been talking drug legalisation at the Home Affairs Select Committee this morning. On the way out he said “Theresa May’s up next, check she knows what day it is…” That sort of public humiliation for a Home Secretary this close to a reshuffle must be doubly uncomfortable… 

Secretary of State Spook Connection

While all eyes are on a different courtroom this morning, the inquest into a the dead spook in a bag has already taken a fiction worthy turn of events. Channel Four reported last night, but have not written up on their website, the evidence submitted to the inquiry by the estate agent who managed the Pimlico pad where Gareth Williams was found dead and locked in a bag, saying it was rented from a company in St Hellier by an unnamed Secretary of State in September 2003. MI6 reports to the Foreign Secretary – if the flat was leased by anyone else then this will look very dodgy…

Jack Straw was Foreign Secretary at the time, and what with being sued for allegedly clearing extraordinary rendition, this is yet another very awkward headache for the elder statesman. It’s not yet come out whether the lease was transferred to subsequent Foreign Secretaries, but tongues are wagging…


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