Cable gaffe costs govt £300k

By staff

Stripping Vince Cable of his responsibilities in the BSkyB takeover has cost the government £300,000.

The business secretary kept his job but lost media competition decisions from his portfolio after being recorded saying he was “declaring war” on Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.

David Cameron acted quickly to hand responsibility for the decision to media secretary Jeremy Hunt.

It has now emerged doing so is costing £300,000.

All but £20,000 is being spent on IT costs. The remainder, according to a freedom of information request from the BBC, was spent on cost and materials.

The government has insisted it is spending the cash in the most cost-effective way possible, but the large figure is likely to make headlines over the weekend.

“All responsibility for competition and policy issues relating to media, broadcasting, digital and telecoms sectors” was shifted following Mr Cable’s pre-Christmas gaffe,” according to Downing Street.

The senior Liberal Democrat was caught out in an interview recorded by a Daily Telegraph reporter pretending to be a constituent, in which Mr Cable threatened resignation as a “nuclear option”.

“I have declared war on Mr Murdoch and I think we are going to win,” he said.

“I have blocked it [the takeover] using the powers that I have got… I can’t politicise this, but from people who know what’s happening this is a big, big thing. His whole empire is under attack.”

The Competition Commission is currently assessing the bid, after media regulator Ofcom requested it do so.