Harriet Harman

Labour Member of Parliament for Camberwell & Peckham

Writing to the Speaker about Jeremy Hunt – 10/05/12

Lord Justice Leveson has made it clear today that he will not reach a verdict on whether Jeremy Hunt breached the Ministerial Code.

It was never the role of the Inquiry to do this and the Prime Minister and Jeremy Hunt should stop trying to hide behind it.

As a Secretary of State, Jeremy Hunt is accountable to the House of Commons and I have today written to the Speaker to express my concern that he is evading his responsibility to Parliament.


I have also written to Jeremy Hunt on three occasions asking him to disclose important information which he steadfastly refuses to do.

Jeremy Hunt has breached the Ministerial Code, misled Parliament and failed to act in an impartial manner during the BSkyB bid – it is ludicrous that the Prime Minister has refused to refer him to the Independent Adviser on Ministers’ Interests.

The Prime Minister and Jeremy Hunt are using every trick in the book to avoid any kind of investigation. They clearly have something to hide and Jeremy Hunt must resign.

You can read my letter to Speaker Bercow below:


Dear John,


I am writing to you because of my concerns in respect of the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport:


·         misleading the House of Commons in reply to questions in the House; and

·         failing to account to the House by refusing to answer questions.


He has misled the House in his reply to a question from Tony Baldry MP on 3 March 2011. He said: 'today we are publishing all the documents relating to all the meetings... all the exchanges between my Department and News Corporation.'


But it is clear that this was not the case. None of the exchanges between his Special Adviser and News Corporation were published. He has now said that he will give these exchanges to the Leveson Inquiry but he has not published them to put right his misleading answer of 3 March 2011.


He is refusing to answer questions and using the Leveson Inquiry as a pretext. The Leveson Inquiry is of great importance but does not, of course, obviate the need for the Secretary of State to be accountable to the House. It is not acceptable for the Secretary of State to, in effect, tell the House that we will have to wait for his answers until we hear him answer questions at the Leveson Inquiry.


In his letter to me of 8 May 2012, the Secretary of State says in reply to my letters to him of 26 and 27 April and 3 May:


"As the Prime Minister reiterated last week, Lord Justice Leveson's Inquiry, where I will be giving oral evidence later this month, and from which the evidence from Mr Murdoch first arose, is a rigorous process and is the correct forum in which my evidence should be examined.


"I will be giving evidence under oath and under cross-examination by a Barrister at the Inquiry...


"On that basis, at this time I do not intend to release any information, or provide any parallel account of the course of events which took place in relation to the BSkyB bid, other than the full and comprehensive evidence I have submitted to the Inquiry.


“Whilst it is a matter for the Lord Justice Leveson to decide what is published in relation to his Inquiry, I anticipate that as much evidence as possible will be published and placed in the public domain. At this point it will become available for all to see.


“I believe this to be the proper order of events, and I look forward to putting the record straight at my scheduled appearance.”


I know that you are determined to ensure that the House is able to hold ministers to account and I would ask for your guidance as to how we can ensure that the Secretary of State does not evade that accountability.


And in view of the fact that the Prime Minister is refusing to take action in respect of the Secretary of State's misleading of the House in his reply to Tony Baldry MP, what action can be taken for this misleading of the House to be called to account.


Yours sincerely,



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