By Ian Dunt
Labour demanded a Commons vote on whether Jeremy Hunt should be referred to the independent adviser on ministerial interests this morning, amid continued anger over the media secretary's testimony to the Leveson inquiry.
Just minutes after Mr Hunt stopped giving evidence Downing Street announced the prime minister would not refer him to the independent adviser or the Cabinet secretary, despite further evidence he was biased towards the Murdoch camp while presiding over the BSkyB bid.
"Jeremy Hunt has broken the ministerial code and misled parliament," shadow media secretary Harriet Harman said.
"It is not acceptable that these rules have been broken and we will call a vote insisting that Jeremy Hunt's breaches of the code are referred to the independent adviser on ministerial interests
"The ministerial code sets the standards which secretaries of state must live up to. When David Cameron came into power, he upgraded the code and he said he was going to have higher standards in public office. Today those words ring hollow - he has just torn up the code," she added.
"Even if the David Cameron thinks it is acceptable for a minister to break the code he drew up, we do not and will call a vote."
Mr Hunt's behaviour constituted an "open and shut resignation offence", Ms Harman added.
Yesterday's testimony also threatened to drag George Osborne into the heart of the row, after details of his conversations with Mr Hunt were revealed.
On the day Vince Cable lost responsibility for the BSkyB bid for alleged bias, Mr Hunt received a phone call from James Murdoch.
Minutes after putting the phone down, he texted George Osborne: "Could we chat about Murdoch Sky bid? Am seriously worried we are going to screw this up."
The chancellor replied: "I hope you like our solution."
Within hours Mr Hunt was given responsibility for the bid.
The Leveson inquiry continues on Monday.
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By Ian Dunt
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