Ivan Lewis MP, Labour's Shadow Culture, Media and Sport Secretary, responding to Jeremy Hunt's statement today, said:
“From the start Labour has sought to deal with this issue in an even handed way. We called for the Business Secretary’s resignation because he could no longer be trusted to consider Newscorp’s bid for BSkyB in an impartial way. Jeremy Hunt’s handling of this issue continues to raise concerns about the transparency of the process and his impartiality. We have made it clear he should have referred the bid to the Competition Commission for an independent inquiry. His failure to do so has led to a further erosion of trust in the Government’s capacity to deal fairly with an issue of tremendous importance to the future of the UK’s media. Mr Hunt may be obeying the letter of the law but many will question whether he is upholding the spirit of the law.
“We recognise that the current legal framework does not allow serious admissions of criminal conduct by News International to be taken into account when considering Newscorp's acquisition of BSkyB. But as the Minister responsible for media policy in this country, it is disappointing that Jeremy Hunt has had so little to say on the phone hacking scandal.
"The current police investigation must lead to the full disclosure of all evidence, with those responsible brought to justice. But it must be followed by an independent inquiry into the conduct of the British press. The questions raised go further than one newspaper group. We support self regulation but self regulation has to be accompanied by responsibility and accountability. Lessons have to be learned and reforms put in place. At its best the UK media is at the leading edge of world class journalism. At its worse it threatens the fabric of our democracy. The vast majority of journalists and editors are committed to maintaining the highest ethical standards. It is in their interests too that such an inquiry should now take place."