COALITION tensions will rise further today as Liberal Democrats abstain in a parliamentary vote on whether culture secretary Jeremy Hunt should be referred to the ministerial watchdog.
Lib Dem MPs agreed to stay out of the vote, which has been called by Labour in an attempt to force an investigation by Sir Alex Allan, the Prime Minister’s adviser on ministerial interests, into Hunt’s comments in the Commons over BSkyB.
It comes after Labour leader Ed Miliband and former Prime Minister Sir John Major both lashed out at Rupert Murdoch’s media empire at the Leveson inquiry.
Major claimed Murdoch asked him to change the government’s Europe policy or his papers would not back him in the 1997 election – a seeming contradiction of Murdoch’s statement under oath that he has “never asked a Prime Minister for anything”.
Major said Murdoch’s claim was “literally true” in the context of personal or commercial benefits. He also called the “sheer scale of [Murdoch’s] influence” an “unattractive facet of British national life”.
Miliband accused News International of exhibiting a “sense of power without responsibility”.