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Hunt 'like a dodgy football ref'
Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt behaved like a "dodgy football ref", a senior Labour frontbencher has claimed as the party sought to maintain pressure on him.
Shadow Commons leader Angela Eagle also raised questions about David Cameron's actions, claiming he had failed to disclose all his meetings with media mogul Rupert Murdoch and the Prime Minister's "lapses of memory were beginning to look a little bit too convenient".
Mr Hunt has faced calls to quit over the extent of communication between his office and Mr Murdoch's News Corporation during the firm's bid to take over BSkyB.
Following the resignation of Mr Hunt's special adviser Adam Smith, Ms Eagle said: "The Culture Secretary may have thrown his aide to the wolves but the ministerial code is crystal clear: the Secretary of State is responsible for the conduct of his special advisers."
She asked Commons Leader Sir George Young: "Was News Corporation informed about the content of a parliamentary statement before that statement was made to the House?
"Despite telling the House on March 3 that he had published all the exchanges between his department and News Corporation, the emails disclosed at the Leveson Inquiry demonstrated that the Culture Secretary had not.
"That is not a matter for Lord Leveson, it is a matter for this House and this House needs answers.
"Far from acting in a quasi-judicial capacity, the Culture Secretary has been acting like a dodgy football ref who not only favours one team but is in the dressing room with them planning the tactics."
Turning to Mr Cameron, she questioned his claim that he had just two meetings with Mr Murdoch.
"The Prime Minister apparently forgets the majority of his meetings with Mr Murdoch.
"The Prime Minister also said he had not been involved in any of the discussions about News International's bid for BSkyB but it now emerges that he did discuss it with James Murdoch over a cosy Christmas dinner with Rebekah Brooks while the phone hacking scandal was in full swing.
"Then there's Raisa the police horse: the Prime Minister couldn't remember whether he had taken her riding before finally remembering that he had.
"We know this Prime Minister doesn't do detail, but his lapses of memory are beginning to look a little bit too convenient."
Answering questions in the Commons, Sir George attacked Labour over the conduct of Gordon Brown's former special adviser.
"I can't remember which minister resigned when Damian McBride had to leave No 10 Downing Street," he said.
Sir George repeated Lord Justice Leveson's request that his inquiry be allowed to run its course.
The minister said the list of meetings between Mr Cameron and Mr Murdoch included only "formal" encounters.
He attacked Labour's Chris Bryant, who first raised the issue of a disparity between the meetings recalled by Mr Cameron and Mr Murdoch.
Sir George said: "I understand that Mr Murdoch has produced a new list this morning, which has not yet been published but will be published in due course.
"The Government stands by the list that we produce on a quarterly basis, which we were always clear included only formal meetings rather than, for example, being at a summer party when it would obviously be impossible to know the full list of everybody at that particular party."
Turning to Mr Bryant, he said: "I'm sure (he) will want to reflect on what he did yesterday when he raised evidence in this House that had not yet been released by the inquiry, a clear breach of the restriction order placed on it by Lord Justice Leveson and which Lord Justice Leveson deprecated in his opening remarks this morning."
He said Rhondda MP Mr Bryant should "reflect on what he did and possibly apologise to Lord Leveson".
Former Labour minister Denis MacShane said: "In ancient times the most dishonourable act was for a senior officer or official to sacrifice a junior person to save his own life."
He said there was a "stench of sleaze at the heart of Government" and the Culture Secretary was "living on borrowed time".