Hunt claims he's been vindicated over role in BSkyB bid

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt claims he has been vindicated over his handling of the BSkyB deal by the Leveson Inquiry.

The Tory also insisted there had been no need for him to fall on his sword when hundreds of texts and emails between his adviser and the Murdoch empire emerged because “taking responsibility” for wrongdoing did not mean having to quit.

Labour has repeatedly accused Hunt of several breaches of the ministerial code – partly related to his then special adviser Adam Smith’s over-close contacts with a News Corp lobbyist.

Hunt told BBC Radio 4’s The Media Show yesterday: “The ministerial code says you are responsible for the actions of your special adviser. It doesn’t say you should resign if your special adviser does something wrong and I did take responsibility. I was very, very shocked by what I had seen.”

He added: “I took responsibility by the very next day going to Parliament and answering questions, doing a statement and giving MPs the chance to ask me anything they wanted to ask me about what happened.”

Asked if he believed he would survive a reshuffle, he insisted the inquiry had shown he acted properly, adding: “I love this brief.”

Hunt dismissed suggestions that emails and text messages uncovered by the inquiry into media ethics showed he was too close to the Murdoch empire.

“You can take any text message, or any email, or any reported conversation on its own or out of context and you can use it to paint a particular picture but I think what has been really impressive about the Leveson process,” he said.

“I made no secret the fact that I was broadly sympathetic to the deal but what the Leveson process showed was when I took responsibility I put in place new processes that actually went way beyond what I had to do in law.”

“The really central issue to this is was that bid conducted properly, impartially and I think what the Leveson process showed was that it was,” he added.

“When you look at what actually happened, when I took repsonsibility for the bid I did change my view. I did look at the evidence that was supplied by Ofcom and the Office of Fair Trading. I decided that, this did need to be referred to the Competitions Commission.”

The Culture Secretary said he had “very big ambitions” for radical change in media regulation.

Hunt, who in opposition called for a “big bang” in the sector similar to the widespread deregulation of the City in the 1980s, insisted the Leveson Inquiry could provide that moment, though not in the way he had originally envisaged.

He added: “We need to hear what Lord Justice Leveson has to say, we need to look at the solutions (Press Complaints Commission chairman) Lord Hunt has put forward.”

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