current affairs

Analysis: For Jeremy Hunt, a path of uncertainty emerges

Jeremy Hunt has a lot on his mind these days, especially considering the events of the past week.

Jeremy Hunt has a lot on his mind these days, especially considering the events of the past week. As calls for him to resign continue to exist, he has dealt with the resignation of special adviser Adam Smith and calls from Labour to be investigated for breaching the ministerial code. “The prime minister is defending the indefensible, and he knows it,” leader Ed Miliband said at the House of Commons April 30 as Prime Minister David Cameron made a statement on the matter. “He is protecting the culture secretary’s job while up and down the country hundreds of thousands are losing theirs.”

There are two issues at hand—the issue of an inquiry into breaching the ministerial code and Hunt’s conduct over the takeover bid by News Corporation of satellite network BSkyB. Cameron told MPs in response to Miliband’s remarks that Hunt acted “fairly and impartially” in the handling of the request. Hunt said in his April 25 statement that he sought the advice of independent regulators and acted on it. Every piece of correspondence with News Corporation and advice from OFT and Ofcom, Hunt said, was published.

The other issue is whether an inquiry should be taken by Cameron as to whether Hunt did violate ministerial code. Cameron added in his remarks April 30 that he had no evidence that Hunt acted contrary to the ministerial code. Hunt is due to appear before the inquiry into phone hacking by Lord Justice Leveson in May. A spokesperson for the Inquiry declined to comment on a specific timetable on when Hunt was going to appear. In an interview with the BBC, Hunt said what the public needs to hear is what Leveson says after all the evidence has been given, and says that when he presents his evidence the public will see that he acted with integrity. Leveson has stated in reports that it is not the duty of his inquiry to see if Hunt breached the ministerial code.

A spokesperson for Number 10 told reporters that Hunt has emphasized that all necessary evidence would be provided. “It does not make sense to cut across a judicial inquiry with a parallel process that would risk pre-empting, duplicating or contradicting it,” the spokesperson said. “Once Jeremy Hunt’s evidence is made public and he is questioned, if there is anything that suggests there has been a breach of the code the prime minister would of course act.” A telephone message left with a Number 10 spokesperson seeking comment was not returned. An opinion poll by ComRes published for the Independent April 27 suggests that 63% of the British public believes Hunt should step down from his position as Culture Secretary.

For Hunt, these are indeed interesting times. The events of the next few weeks are likely to determine Hunt’s path, and his place in Cameron’s cabinet as a reshuffle is due to take place. Especially now, remarks by Hunt will certainly mean a lot for the future of his career and his role in British media.