Cameron forced to face hostile questioning

The British Prime Minister was dragged to the House of Commons to face hostile questioning from MPs on why he still refuses to allow an inquiry into whether his Culture Secretary broke ministerial rules over the BSkyB deal.

Downing Street was angered after David Cameron was forced to cancel an election visit to Milton Keynes to be pulled before Parliament.

Facing criticism that he was using Lord Justice Leveson's inquiry as a "smokescreen" to avoid a full investigation into the conduct of Jeremy Hunt, an irate Cameron admitted that Leveson did not have the power to adjudicate on breaches of the Ministerial Code. The Prime Minister declined to act now and said that he would wait until Hunt had given evidence to the inquiry, rather than order his own investigation.

Cameron's unscheduled appearance before Parliament was sanctioned by the Commons Speaker, John Bercow.

Labour leader Ed Miliband claimed that the Culture Secretary had committed three breaches of the Ministerial Code and the only reason he was still in a job was that Cameron needed the Cabinet minister to survive for his own protection. "The Prime Minister is defending the indefensible and he knows it," Miliband said.

"The Culture Secretary has to stay to protect the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister has shown today he is incapable of doing his duty: too close to a powerful few, out of touch with everyone else."

Hunt had told MPs he had published all the exchanges between his department and News Corp but, Miliband said, "he has now admitted that he knew when he gave that answer that there were exchanges he himself authorised between his special adviser and News Corporation". The second accusation was the leaking of "confidential inside information" ahead of a parliamentary statement.

The third alleged breach was over taking responsibility for the action of aide Adam Smith, the Labour leader said. "The Culture Secretary would have us believe that his special adviser was on a freelance mission. Six months of daily emails, texts, leaks and the leaking of confidential information about what opposing parties were saying on one of the biggest media bids for decades."

- Independent

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