Posts tagged "Sir Alex Allan"

Correspondence with Sir Alex Allan

The Prime Minister David Cameron has written to and received a response from Sir Alex Allan, the Independent Adviser on Ministers’ Interests.

Read the Prime Minister’s letter to Sir Alex Allan.

Read Sir Alex Allan’s letter to the Prime Minister.

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Posted by admin - June 29, 2012 at 08:34

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Clegg urged Hunt to refer himself

Culture secretary ignored deputy PM’s advice in build-up to vote over BSkyB row that has fuelled coalition tensions

Nick Clegg took the extraordinary step of personally urging culture secretary Jeremy Hunt to refer himself to the adviser on the ministerial code, in a bid to avoid further damage to the government during the build up to the vote on the minister’s future.

The deputy prime minister told Hunt that the row over his relationship with BSkyB was hugely damaging and needed to be resolved urgently.

Hunt declined to take the advice, delivered by phone, leaving Clegg unable to support his coalition allies in the Commons vote, and prompting some senior Tories to describe the deputy prime minister as a “traitor”.

Labour’s motion, saying that Hunt had misled the House and breached the ministerial code, was defeated by 290 votes to 252, but the Liberal Democrat abstention caused fresh tensions in the coalition and the row over the beleaguered culture secretary continues to haunt the prime minister.

Speaker John Bercow allowed Labour to accuse Hunt of lying to MPs over his handling of Rupert Murdoch’s takeover bid for BSkyB and Cameron’s critics say the row has raised significant doubts about the prime minister’s judgment.

These concerns will now be magnified by the Observer‘s revelation that Clegg repeatedly tried and failed during increasingly anguished conversations to persuade the prime minister of the need to refer the case to Sir Alex Allan, his adviser.

It is believed that Clegg could not understand the prime minister’s reluctance to refer the case, given his insistence that there was no evidence of the ministerial code being broken by the relationship between Hunt’s office, the News Corp lobbyist Fred Michel, and the Murdochs.

A senior Liberal Democrat source said the deputy prime minister became particularly frustrated after Cameron took the decision to refer Tory chairman Baroness Warsi to Allan for failing to declare a business relationship of a relative who travelled with her on a government trip to Pakistan.

The development pushed Clegg into approaching Hunt, only to be ignored, according to a senior Liberal Democrat source. The source added: “Nick Clegg was frustrated that David Cameron couldn’t see how damaging this was to both himself and the government. He thought that referring Warsi made the position even more untenable than it already was.

“The deputy prime minister repeatedly offered the prime minister and Jeremy Hunt a ladder to climb down.

“Nick Clegg made his position clear to the prime minister before Hunt’s appearance at the Leveson inquiry. He made it again in the aftermath of Cameron’s decision not to refer and numerous times in the week running up to the vote. He even spoke to Jeremy Hunt personally urging him to refer himself to Sir Alex Allan to get himself out of a corner.”

The source said the Liberal Democrat leadership did not have any problem in believing in Hunt’s innocence but Clegg believed it was wrong to avoid a referral. “No one is making any judgments about culpability,” the source added.

“Nick Clegg values Jeremy Hunt as a collaborative colleague in the coalition. That is not the issue. This was about the Liberal Democrats being unable to support what we felt was the politically unsustainable decision not to refer.

“When it became clear that they wouldn’t help themselves, Nick wasn’t going to expend political capital defending them. We weren’t going to endorse a decision in the House that we weren’t consulted on and didn’t agree with.”

In response to the Liberal Democrat failure to vote against Labour’s motion last week, furious Tory MPs have threatened to derail Clegg’s plans for an elected House of Lords in a revenge attack.

Cameron has played down the Liberal Democrat manoeuvre, telling MPs, “It’s politics”.


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Posted by admin - June 17, 2012 at 21:41

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Nick Clegg urged Jeremy Hunt to refer himself to adviser on ministerial code

Culture secretary ignored deputy PM’s advice in build-up to vote over BSkyB row that has fuelled coalition tensions

Nick Clegg took the extraordinary step of personally urging culture secretary Jeremy Hunt to refer himself to the adviser on the ministerial code, in a bid to avoid further damage to the government during the build up to the vote on the minister’s future.

The deputy prime minister told Hunt that the row over his relationship with BSkyB was hugely damaging and needed to be resolved urgently.

Hunt declined to take the advice, delivered by phone, leaving Clegg unable to support his coalition allies in the Commons vote, and prompting some senior Tories to describe the deputy prime minister as a “traitor”.

Labour’s motion, saying that Hunt had misled the House and breached the ministerial code, was defeated by 290 votes to 252, but the Liberal Democrat abstention caused fresh tensions in the coalition and the row over the beleaguered culture secretary continues to haunt the prime minister.

Speaker John Bercow allowed Labour to accuse Hunt of lying to MPs over his handling of Rupert Murdoch’s takeover bid for BSkyB and Cameron’s critics say the row has raised significant doubts about the prime minister’s judgment.

These concerns will now be magnified by the Observer‘s revelation that Clegg repeatedly tried and failed during increasingly anguished conversations to persuade the prime minister of the need to refer the case to Sir Alex Allan, his adviser.

It is believed that Clegg could not understand the prime minister’s reluctance to refer the case, given his insistence that there was no evidence of the ministerial code being broken by the relationship between Hunt’s office, the News Corp lobbyist Fred Michel, and the Murdochs.

A senior Liberal Democrat source said the deputy prime minister became particularly frustrated after Cameron took the decision to refer Tory chairman Baroness Warsi to Allan for failing to declare a business relationship of a relative who travelled with her on a government trip to Pakistan.

The development pushed Clegg into approaching Hunt, only to be ignored, according to a senior Liberal Democrat source. The source added: “Nick Clegg was frustrated that David Cameron couldn’t see how damaging this was to both himself and the government. He thought that referring Warsi made the position even more untenable than it already was.

“The deputy prime minister repeatedly offered the prime minister and Jeremy Hunt a ladder to climb down.

“Nick Clegg made his position clear to the prime minister before Hunt’s appearance at the Leveson inquiry. He made it again in the aftermath of Cameron’s decision not to refer and numerous times in the week running up to the vote. He even spoke to Jeremy Hunt personally urging him to refer himself to Sir Alex Allan to get himself out of a corner.”

The source said the Liberal Democrat leadership did not have any problem in believing in Hunt’s innocence but Clegg believed it was wrong to avoid a referral. “No one is making any judgments about culpability,” the source added.

“Nick Clegg values Jeremy Hunt as a collaborative colleague in the coalition. That is not the issue. This was about the Liberal Democrats being unable to support what we felt was the politically unsustainable decision not to refer.

“When it became clear that they wouldn’t help themselves, Nick wasn’t going to expend political capital defending them. We weren’t going to endorse a decision in the House that we weren’t consulted on and didn’t agree with.”

In response to the Liberal Democrat failure to vote against Labour’s motion last week, furious Tory MPs have threatened to derail Clegg’s plans for an elected House of Lords in a revenge attack.

Cameron has played down the Liberal Democrat manoeuvre, telling MPs, “It’s politics”.


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Posted by admin -  at 08:48

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Cameron: Hunt acted ‘wisely and fairly’ over BSkyB bid

PM defends refusal to launch investigation into culture secretary, but sidesteps question of keeping Hunt in the job after Olympics

David Cameron has defended his refusal to launch an investigation into Jeremy Hunt, insisting the culture secretary acted “wisely and fairly”, but refused an opportunity to say he would keep Hunt in his current job beyond the London Olympics.

Cameron cleared Hunt within minutes of the latter completing his day-long evidence session at the Leveson inquiry on Thursday. He said he would not be referring Hunt to the independent adviser on the ministerial code, Sir Alex Allan.

But speaking on BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday morning, he said Hunt had always acted on the legal advice he received during the News Corp bid for BSkyB. He pointed out that the permanent secretary at the culture department, Jonathan Stephens, said Hunt had given himself “vanishingly small wriggle room” over the bid.

Cameron added that he had appointed Hunt to succeed Vince Cable to oversee the bid in December 2010 after legal advice and with the consent of the then cabinet secretary, Lord O’Donnell. The task was transferred to the culture department after it was leaked that Cable had told two Telegraph journalists posing as constituents that he had “declared war on the Murdochs”.

Hunt, against the advice of his civil servants, had pressed Cameron the month before to convene a meeting with Cable to back the bid, but Cameron told Marr on Sunday that said none of Hunt’s private remarks were as favourable to Murdochs as his known public backing for the bid. “I took the advice of the cabinet secretary, who took legal advice about it, and what he (Hunt) said publicly was more effusive, more powerful than anything he’d said privately, and on that basis I gave him the job.”

Cameron said Hunt had acted entirely properly. “The advice I was given was that what mattered was not what Jeremy Hunt had said publicly or privately but how he was going to conduct himself during the bid. That’s how I think we should judge him: did he adjudicate this bid wisely and fairly? And he did. He took legal advice at every stage, and he followed that legal advice and he did many things that were not in the interests of the Murdochs or BSkyB and that side of things.

He added Hunt had “given a good account of himself to the Leveson inquiry, he’s given a good account of himself to parliament, and I think that’s the key point”.

He said Hunt “ran the bid very well and, I think, reached the right conclusions”.

Asked whether Hunt would remain in his current post until Christmas, Cameron avoided the question, confining himself to saying Hunt was “the right person” to remain in charge of making a success of the London 2012 Olympics but sidestepped the question of whether he would remain in post after that.

There has been speculation that Hunt will offer to stand aside in a late summer reshuffle.

Asked if Hunt was safe in his job for at least the rest of the year, Cameron said: “He’s got a very important job to do.”

Labour is to use its opposition day debate on Wednesday 13 June to demand an inquiry into Hunt’s actions by Allan, the prime minister’s adviser on the ministerial code.

The Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, is likely to give evidence to Leveson that day, one day before the prime minister.

Senior Conservative Bernard Jenkin has also entered the row by renewing his calls for Allan to be given the power to stage inquiries without the prime minister’s permission.

Jenkin chairs the public administration select committee (PASC), which is preparing to “consider the matter again” after recess, he warned.

Liberal Democrats have not yet said how they will vote in the Labour called debate, but it would be regarded as a very hostile act for Clegg’s party to challenge Cameron’s decision on disciplining one of his senior ministers.

It is possible that Clegg’s MPs may be given a free vote.

“No decision has been taken about the opposition day motion,” a Lib Dem spokesman said about the possibility of a “whipping operation”, as some of the party’s MPs have said they believe there should be a probe.

“It is a matter for the prime minister to decide how to handle issues of discipline concerning Conservative ministers,” the spokesman added.

Liberal Democrat MP Adrian Sanders told the Observer: “The public will accept the verdict from the person who is supposed to investigate these issues far more readily than it will the verdict of the prime minister. What is the point of having an adviser on the ministerial code if you never use him?”

Fellow Lib Dem MP Lorely Burt said: “I thought he (Hunt) should have referred himself, quite honestly, but he lost that opportunity.”

Former Labour business minister Pat McFadden also waded into the row, saying on Twitter that Hunt faced serious accusatios of leaking commercially sensitive information to one party in a bid which was not available to others, in breach of section 118 of the Financial Services Act.


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Posted by admin - June 3, 2012 at 13:01

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Cameron: government’s U-turns a sign of ‘resolve, strength and grit’

PM says it took courage to change course on key policies and defends refusal to launch investigation into Jeremy Hunt

David Cameron has insisted his government has “resolve, strength and grit” as he defended a string of forced U-turns on tax measures.

Speaking on BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show, the prime minister said it took courage for an administration to admit it was “ploughing into the brick wall” and change course on high-profile policies.

Cameron also defended his refusal to launch an investigation into his beleaguered culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt. Instead, he said the minister had acted “wisely and fairly” and had given “a good account of himself”.

He acknowledged “difficulties” thrown up by the budget, but sought to make a virtue of the government’s willingness to accept its mistakes.

On Thursday, the chancellor, George Osborne, bowed to intense pressure to cap tax relief on charitable donations – his third budget about-face in less than a week. The switch came hot on the heels of fundamental changes to levies on pasties and static caravans announced in March.

Since taking power in May 2010, the Tory/Liberal Democrat coalition has made at least 21 prominent climbdowns – with critics putting the figure far higher. Labour said the budget had become an “embarrassing shambles”.

“We’ve taken difficult decisions on the deficit which we’ve cut by a quarter in two years, difficult decisions on public sector pay, reforming public sector pensions, standing up to public sector strikes,” Cameron said.

“Nobody thinks this government lacks resolve, strength and grit. It has all of those things and it also has the courage to say, ‘Look, if we’ve got something wrong, let’s change it; let’s not keep ploughing into the brick wall.'”

He added: “There have been difficulties in the budget and we’ve had to make some changes.

“When you’ve got something wrong, there are two things you can do in government: you can plough on regardless, or you can say, ‘No, we’re going to listen, we’re going to change it, we’re going to get it right.’ And that’s what we’ve done and I think that’s the right thing to do.”

The measures “at the heart of the budget” remained in place, he said – lifting the threshold at which people start to pay income tax and cutting the top rate of tax from 50p to 45p.

Cameron is also under pressure to launch an investigation into claims that Hunt breached the ministerial code. Furthermore, he faces questions about his own judgment in appointing Hunt to adjudicate on the proposed News Corp takeover of BSkyB despite knowing of his personal sympathies for the Murdoch media empire.

But despite the emergence, in evidence disclosed to the Leveson inquiry, of pro-bid text messages sent by Hunt on the day he was handed responsibility, Cameron said he had acted entirely properly.

“The advice I was given was that what mattered was not what Jeremy Hunt had said publicly or privately but how he was going to conduct himself during the bid,” he said. “That’s how I think we should judge him: did he adjudicate this bid wisely and fairly?

“And he did. He took legal advice at every stage, and he followed that legal advice and he did many things that were not in the interests of the Murdochs or BSkyB and that side of things. And I think he gave a good account of himself to the Leveson inquiry, he’s given a good account of himself to parliament, and I think that’s the key point.”

Cameron said he had “looked carefully” at pro-Murdoch public statements made by Hunt and taken legal advice before transferring bid responsibility to him from Vince Cable.

The business secretary was stripped of the media role after telling undercover reporters posing as constituents that he had “declared war” on Rupert Murdoch. Hunt sent a memo to No 10 while Cable was in charge, warning that he risked putting the government on “the wrong side” of media policy.

“I looked carefully at what Jeremy Hunt had said publicly,” Cameron said. “I took the advice of the cabinet secretary, who took legal advice about it, and what he said publicly was more effusive, more powerful than anything he’d said privately, and on that basis I gave him the job.” He added: “He ran it very well and, I think, reached the right conclusions.”

Cameron said Hunt was “the right person” to remain in charge of making a success of the London 2012 Olympics but sidestepped the question of whether he would remain in post after that. Asked if Hunt was safe in his job for at least the rest of the year, Cameron said: “He’s got a very important job to do.”

Labour is to use its opposition day debate on Wednesday 13 June to demand an inquiry into Hunt’s actions by Sir Alex Allan, the prime minister’s adviser on the ministerial code.


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Posted by admin -  at 12:59

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David Cameron forced to answer Jeremy Hunt questions

PM ordered to the Commons to explain why there is no inquiry into allegations surrounding the culture secretary

An incandescent David Cameron was forced by the Speaker, John Bercow, to come to the Commons to explain why he was not launching an immediate inquiry into allegations that his culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, breached the ministerial code over his handling of the News Corp bid for BSkyB.

It was the first time in 10 years that the Speaker has ordered a prime minister to come to the Commons, and Cameron had to cut short a local election campaign trip in Buckinghamshire to make a statement he believed was largely unnecessary.

Sources close to Hunt accused Bercow of being “rotten with bias”, adding that he “should not be Speaker”.

As tempers frayed Cameron rounded on the Labour leader, Ed Miliband. “Endlessly questioning the integrity of someone when you do not have the evidence is bad judgment, rotten politics and plain wrong. We have learned something about the Labour leader today and I think it is something he will regret,” Cameron said.

At another point he advised 81-year-old Dennis Skinner to get his pension.

Miliband said: “The prime minister is defending the indefensible, and he knows it. He is protecting the culture secretary’s job while up and down the country hundreds of thousands are losing theirs.”

Cameron again insisted it was better for Hunt’s handling of the BSkyB bid to be examined under oath in public by the Leveson inquiry, rather than by the independent adviser on the ministerial code, Sir Alex Allan. It was being suggested by government sources that Allan privately agrees with Cameron’s judgment, but the Cabinet Office refused to let Allan speak to the media.

By the end of a one-hour statement that generated more heat than light, it did emerge that Cameron came to his current view that Hunt had not breached the ministerial code on the basis of the culture secretary’s verbal assurances, and without seeing any written evidence.

At a private meeting last Tuesday, Hunt assured Cameron and the cabinet secretary, Sir Jeremy Heywood, that he had not been aware that his special adviser, Adam Smith, was systematically leaking information and advice to News Corp about its bid for BSkyB.

There is also doubt that the culture department centrally retains any correspondence between Hunt and Smith, who was forced to resign. That could mean any exchange between the two will have to be found on Hunt’s private email.

No 10 confirmed that the prime minister is not entitled to see any of the evidence submitted to the Leveson inquiry by Hunt as Cameron is also a witness to the inquiry.

Downing Street conceded that Cameron has now invested personal political credibility in Hunt’s innocence and that he would feel let down if evidence emerged to contradict Hunt’s account.

In the Commons, Cameron, angry both at the Speaker John Bercow for calling him to the Commons and with Miliband for challenging his political integrity, accused Labour of self-serving double standards


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Posted by admin - May 1, 2012 at 08:44

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Speaker summons Cameron to face Hunt questions

Prime minister will cut short election tour to make Commons statement after Speaker grants Labour’s request

David Cameron’s statement – live updates

David Cameron is to be required to make an urgent Commons statement about the culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, a development that will infuriate No 10 and strengthen its suspicion of the Speaker, John Bercow.

David Cameron will cut short an election tour to make the Commons statement on Monday afternoon, amid pressure on Hunt over his handling of News Corp’s bid to take full control of BSkyB.

It is for the Speaker alone to decide whether to grant an urgent question. It was thought he would reject the Labour request on the basis that Cameron dealt with the issue at prime minister’s questions and Hunt answered questions for more than an hour in the Commons last Wednesday.

But since then Lord Justice Leveson has made it clear that he does not have the mandate to decide whether Hunt has breached the ministerial code.

Cameron has adopted the position that he will look at breaches of the code only after Hunt has given evidence under oath to Leveson. He argued that the Leveson inquiry was a better forum since it would require all evidence to be made available publicly.

Ed Miliband has accused Cameron of conducting a cover-up and said the issue should be examined immediately by Sir Alex Allan, the prime minister’s independent adviser on the ministerial code.


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Posted by admin - April 30, 2012 at 21:14

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