Cameron declares Hunt innocent

By staff

Jeremy Hunt is the "right person" to oversee the London 2012 Olympics, David Cameron has said, but both the Lib Dems and Labour are not relieving pressure on the culture secretary.

Mr Cameron told BBC1's The Andrew Marr Show that the culture, media and sport secretary had given a good account of himself in six hours of scrutiny at the Leveson inquiry earlier this week.

While Mr Hunt is not thought to have committed any career-ending mistakes in his handling of News Corp's ultimately unsuccessful takeover bid for BSkyB, commentators have suggested his office's informal links with Rupert Murdoch and his colleagues may have shortened his career.

"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," Mr Cameron 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."

Mr Hunt's ordeal is not yet over, however, despite the endorsement of the prime minister. The Liberal Democrats are not so ready to back Mr Hunt.

A senior Lib Dem source told the Independent: "There is a difference between whether he stays or goes, and whether he should be referred to the adviser on the ministerial code."

Labour is expected to use an opposition day debate to force the coalition parties' hand when parliament returns in ten days' time.

That debate will see the opposition insist that Mr Hunt has broken the ministerial code, which only the prime minister can officially rule on.

Mr Cameron appears focused on keeping Mr Hunt in his job until at least the end of the summer, however, with the London 2012 Olympics now approaching fast.

"I think the preparations which the Department for Culture, Media and Sport have overseen have been very, very good," he said.

"There is still vital work to do to keep the country safe, to keep our transport moving and to make sure those Games are a success, and Jeremy Hunt is the right person to do that."

He also used his interview to draw a line under a week which saw the coalition make six major policy U-turns.

"When you've got something wrong there are two things you can do about it," the prime minister said.

"You can plough on regardless or you can say no, we're going to listen and we're going to change it and we're going to get it right and that's what we've done."