THE BRITISH PARLIAMENT’S commissioner for standards has opened an investigation into Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who has faced calls for his resignation over his office’s dealings with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.
John Lyon confirmed today that he is looking into allegations that Hunt failed to register donations from several media companies.
Lyon said the investigation is in response to a complaint from an opposition member of Parliament that Hunt had failed to disclose his participation in a series of networking events staged by eight creative industry organisations. The events took place before he took his current post.
Hunt’s fellow Conservative Ed Vaizey attended the same events between July 2009 and March 2010, and reported them as donations in kind worth £27,000 pounds (€33,400).
Hunt’s office said he had amended his disclosure form, but Hunt has said he did not attend all of the events.
Hunt’s former special adviser, Adam Smith, is scheduled to testify on Thursday at the Leveson Inquiry into press standards, while Hunt is due to give evidence himself later this month.
Smith resigned following the disclosure of email communications with News Corp lobbyist Fred Michel about News Corp’s proposed takeover of satellite broadcaster BSkyB. The email, sent to former News International boss Rebekah Brooks by Michel, suggested that Hunt had sought “guidance” on his and Number 10′s position on the unfolding phone hacking scandal.
Hunt was the minister in charge of deciding whether the takeover could go ahead, and has denied that he was secretly aiding the bid, while his spokesperson dismissed the email claim as “inaccurate”.
News Corp dropped its bid in July after one of its British newspapers, the Sunday tabloid News of the World, was reported to have hacked the phone messages of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler while police were still searching for her.
- Additional reporting by the AP