Coffee House

The Hunt becomes the hunted

24 April 2012

3:09 PM

24 April 2012

3:09 PM

The Eurocrisis may be nagging at our political class, but it’s got
nothing on the Leveson inquiry. Today has been James Murdoch’s turn in the hotseat, and it has produced some of the most explosive testimony so far. There was the claim that, contrary to
previous Tory insinuations, Murdoch Jr did chat about the BSkyB bid with David Cameron at that notorious Christmas Dinner
in 2010. But topping that is the revelation that News Corp had all sorts of contact with Jeremy Hunt about the bid, mainly via their head of public affairs Fred Michel, as it was simmering along in
2010 and 2011.

It doesn’t look good for Hunt. As the minister in charge of the media brief, who was then asked to preside over the BSkyB bid after Vince Cable’s indiscretions, he was advised against meeting with Murdoch. But
it appears that he broke the spirit, if not the letter, of that advice with a string of emails, mobile phone calls and smoke signals relayed through advisers and other conduits. There are various
quotes arising from today’s testimony suggesting that Hunt was ‘on side’ with the bid from the off. In
response, Ladbrokes have slashed the odds on him being the next Cabinet ejectee from 50/1 this morning to 5/1 now.

We haven’t heard the full story yet — indeed, there is still more to come from James Murdoch. But, even at this stage, this is the sort of thing that could tarnish Hunt’s
credibility as a future Tory leader. The Culture Secretary could certainly do with his colleagues rallying around him, but it’s all quiet so far.

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Show comments
  • Peter From Maidstone

    Fex Urbis. I am the real Peter From Maidstone. For some reason, perhaps because I started a new blog, the Spectator is allowing the troll to post using my identity. I have reported these posts and the Spectator is doing nothing, so I am considering legal action.

  • Peter From Maidstone

    There is another identity theft post just above which the Spectator has allowed. I have notified the Spectator that this is identity theft, and have asked them to take action, they seem unwilling to do so, or to contact me.

    If anyone knows a good lawyer please let me know. I will not allow the Spectator to facilitate the theft of my identity in this way.

  • Axstane

    Maggie @5.37

    That is one the wisest set of questions ever asked on this anti-Cameron blog. It is perfectly clear that Cameron will be criticised by the press, the left-wing, the Greens, the unions, UKIP and half the LibDems whatever he does, says or wherever he goes to.

    We have a mad blogger from Mexico who comes on every couple of weeks to rant about the way he dresses and another harpy who works for the Daily Mail who has a handful of epithets she uses, endlessly, forever, without stopping, boringly.

  • Fex Urbis

    Who is the real Maidstone?

  • Peter of Maidstone

    On the subject of Murdoch, this is another telling tweet:

    Rupert Murdoch

  • Peter of Maidstone

    I am not so sure. Blair is one of his children’s godfathers and he has developed a pathological hatred for Cameron since Coulson got the heave ho and he was forced to withdraw from BSkyB. Remember he has been twittering against Cameron over the £10 Billion pledged to the IMF.

  • Louisa

    ellis000: do hope you’re right. There has to be payback time for (especially) that pipsqueak pygmy Watson with his sneering patronising questions at the select committee.

  • Jannie Geldenhuys

    Cameron really is going to regret not having grasped the Coulson nettle much sooner than he did.

    By leaving it too long he had to overcompensate by establishing Leveson. Bad stuff was bound to come out, not least because our political class is so incompetent and corrupt.

    I hope Murdoch goes for Labour next.

    But I wonder whether he hasnt written the UK off and his parting gift to us all isnt going to be Ed Miliband as PM so that we can all suffer as penance?

  • Peter From Maidstone

    Dennis Churchill, Peter of Maidstone is a lying troll that I keep reporting to the Spectator, and who they continue to allow to post. I am running out of patience as the Spectator seems to be facilitating him posting under my identity several times each day.

  • Dimoto

    ellis000 –

    The Murdoch “revenge” began weeks ago, you evidently don’t read the Times (or Sun).

    Have to agree with Maggie, have Blair ‘n Brown negotiated a free-pass with the Leveson inquiry ?
    (Not to mention the get-out-of-jail-free cards distributed to the Mirror, Mail and Guardian).

    The ironic angle is that the raddled, bitter old chump is STILL manipulating our politics with a full-on public stage, thoughtfully provided by Cameron.

  • Maggie

    Perhaps the BBC and The Guardian could supply us with a list of people they think Prime Ministers can speak to. Not newspaper proprietors, journalists or editors obviously. And not wealth creators in any form or bankers or anyone who works in insurance. There’s a long list of heads of state they’re not allowed to talk to and countries they aren’t allowed to visit, perhaps they could supply reminders. Then we need a list of which music they’re not allowed to listen to; which sporting events they’re not allowed to attend and where they’re n ot allowed to take their wives.

    And we need another list of who they CAN speak to – trade unionists, asylum seekers and the unemployed. Anyone else?

  • Maggie

    There is nothing wrong with Cameron having a social life (and dining with the same people Brown and Blair dined with). There is nothing wrong with the Murdochs wanting to increase their holding in Sky, the brilliant and successful broadcaster that they started from scratch. There is nothing wrong with people other than me, eg politicians, thinking James Murdoch has done fantastically well with Sky and that it would be in the interests of viewers, Sky employees, sports and arts lovers for News International to consolidate his Sky holdings.

    There is a lot wrong with pretending there is.

  • Verity

    What Ellis000 said.

    On the other issue, I would like to see Davey Shameron shambling out of No 10 first thing tomorrow morning. His elevation to Prime Minister of Great Britain has been inexplicable fancy footwork and light and shadows from Day One.

  • strapworld

    100% behind those words ellis000

  • The Oncoming Storm

    And Alex Salmond is also mentioned as being prepared to lobby for the Sky deal allegedly in return for the Scottish Sun’s support.

    They’re all the same aren’t they?

  • ellis000

    The Murdoch retaliation began today. Cameron and the coalition first but I expect Rupert to go for Brown and Blair as well and probably something tasty for the slimeball Watson. We could be looking at much wailing and gnashing of teeth across the political spectrum over the next few days.

    Anybody who thought that Rupert Murdoch would lie down and take his kicking quietly doesn’t understand what balls it take to create the sort of empire he has. I have always admired him greatly and hope he gives it to them all with both feet squarely in their lying teeth.

  • strapworld

    Hunt will resign to attempt to save Cameron’s face. Slippery will say that Murdoch was wrong about the dinner. But the wheel has come off well and truly.

    Let us see how Trevors Den supports this rotten crowd now?

  • RKing

    I’m sure someone will offer Hunt a nice well paid job!!!

    (IF he resigns)

  • Cynic

    When do honourable men resign, Peter? When we have honourable men in government. As far as I can see, this lot is just the same as the last lot.

  • Dennis Churchill

    Peter of Maidstone
    April 24th, 2012 3:45pm
    When do honourable men resign? When they believe it is the honourable thing to do.
    Because we are dealing with our current political class the question should be: “when do people without any understanding of honour resign?” The Blair years showed us that the answer is when they are forced to.

  • George

    Lets be CRYSTAL CLEAR…

    The urdochs have been allowed FAR TOO MUCH access to successive Governments – since the days of Thatcher, exacerbated by Major, exacerbated again by Blair, not significantly better under Brown albeit he detested them and they him..


    Cameron MET James Murdoch 10 times in the year prior to the 2010 election = NO WONDER HE WAS ENDORSED…

    MORE worrying are the MONTHLY MEETINGS between Jeremy Hunt and James Murdoch starting 2 days after Vince the Cable anti News International outburst…

    Hunt is in deep doo-dah….

    Cameron has only ever said “no inappropriate conversations too place”

    Oh Dear Dave…..

    The re-launch yesterday has GONE HORRIBLY HORRIBLY WRONG….

    savaged by Nadine

    savaged by your own Committee for “lacking in direction”

    complicit in “social cleansing”

    complicit in “large scale corporate fraud with NI”…..


    Lets have an ELECTION…..


  • Colin

    When low integrity opportunists upset the balance of power, in return for short term advantage, unpredictable things happen.

    Forget Hunt, he’s already Kucked and deservedly so.

    In the wake of this, if cameron makes it to 2015 as PM, I’ll donate £100 to the charity of your choice.

  • Hexhamgeezer

    ‘but it’s got nothing on the Leveson inquiry’

    Exactly – and that’s the problem with you f******.

    BBC5 Live – wall-to-wall live Leveson

    No doubt about their ‘national strategy’

  • Peter of Maidstone

    The most worrying thing here is not Hunt but the Cameron dinner. He said he believed Coulson but do we believe him now?
    Cameron is now not just an incompetent PM.
    When do honourable men resign?

  • Maggie

    This is called “Module 3” of the Leveson inquiry. The subject is supposed to be “The relationship between press and politicians”. As far as I can see Leveson has ignored the terms of the inquiry and is conducting an inquiry of his own into “The relationship between David Cameron and the Murdochs”.
    For as long as the inquiry goes to such extraordinary lengths to protect Brown, Blair and Labour politicians, The Guardian and the BBC I can’t take it seriously. The whole thing is a travesty.

  • Ed Roberts

    Tiberius, are you suggesting they shouldn’t? Are you implying that only left-wing vindictiveness would drive them to do so?

  • Tiberius

    Well I’m sure the BBC and one or two others will pump up the volume shortly, Pete.