Show Hide image

Jeremy Hunt, Adam Smith, Frédéric Michel to appear at Leveson

Lord Leveson confirms their appearance by the "end of May".

Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt, along with his former special advisor and News Corp lobbyist Frédéric Michel will all give evidence at the Leveson inquiry before the end of May.

Lord Leveson made the announcement yesterday, while calling on Parliament not to demand publication of witness statements relating to Michel's controversial emails, which first prompted calls for Hunt to resign.

Michel's emails imply that Jeremy Hunt's office was biassed towards Rupert Murdoch's News International in the matter of the BSkyB takeover bid.

Lord Leveson has insisted that he will not give a judgement on whether or not the House of Commons had been mislead by Jeremy Hunt, arguing that it is up to the Prime Minister and MPs to make that judgement. He said it was important crucial evidence was not released to Parliament in advance of the inquiry, as the witnesses would then be answering questions against a political backdrop.

The speaker John Bercow can force the release of witness statements with a Speaker's order, but Leveson said he hoped this would not happen, as it would interrupt the inquiry.

Hunt faces pressure from the House of Commons to resign, after a point of order was raised by Harriet Harman MP in the Commons on Monday. She asked the Speaker to confirm

Whether it is in order for the Secretary of State to say that he won’t answer questions from Honourable Members in this House because instead he's going to tell Lord Justice Leveson; and whether  it is in order for the Secretary of State to say he won’t place documents in the Library because he's giving them to Leveson. Will you confirm that the Secretary of State's refusal to answer questions is not because he is prevented from doing so by the Leveson Inquiry - but because he doesn't want to.

The Speaker responded that the accountability of a minister to the House of Commons was not affected by external inquiries, and that as a courtesy, written documents submitted to inquiries should also be submitted to the house.

So far this week, Leveson has heard testimony from Alastair Campbell, leading civil servant Gus O'Donnell and Sky journalist Adam Boulton.