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David Cameron dinner with James Murdoch 'broke the ministers’ code'

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David Cameron dinner with James Murdoch 'broke the ministers’ code'

Post by HotlipsHealy on 19.07.11 8:20

David Cameron has been reported to the country’s most senior civil servant for allegedly breaching the ministerial code.

By Christopher Hope, Whitehall Editor6:30AM BST 19 Jul 2011
John Mann, a backbench Labour MP, wrote to Sir Gus O’Donnell, the Cabinet Secretary, to accuse the Prime Minister of breaking rules over an alleged conflict of interest in relation to the bid by News Corporation for the remaining shares it did not own in BSkyB. If he is found to have breached the code, Mr Cameron could be referred to Sir Philip Mawer, the Prime Minister’s independent adviser on ministers’ interests, who would investigate further.
However, it is not clear how the complaint would be handled because the rules state that the Prime Minister has to decide if there is a case to answer.
The Daily Telegraph disclosed yesterday that David and Samantha Cameron shared a family dinner with James Murdoch, the deputy chief operating officer of News Corporation, and his wife Kathryn, and Rebekah Brooks, the chief executive of News International, and her husband Charlie on December 23 last year.
Two days previously, Mr Cameron had removed decision-making powers over the BSkyB bid from Vince Cable after the Business Secretary made unguarded comments that he had “gone to war” with Rupert Murdoch, the chairman of News Corp.
Mr Mann’s letter to Sir Gus suggested that Mr Cameron had broken the ministerial code. “I write to urge you to consider investigating whether David Cameron MP has breached section 1 of the Ministerial Code,” he wrote.
“Section 1.2.f of the code states: ministers must ensure that no conflict arises, or appears to arise, between their public duties and their private interests.
“It is therefore incumbent on the Prime Minister to avoid both actual or the appearance of a conflict of interest between decisions he should make as Prime Minister and his close personal relationship with Rebekah Brooks and James Murdoch.
“A breach of the code appears to have arisen, please investigate.”
The code states that “if there is an allegation about a breach of the code, and the Prime Minister, having consulted the Cabinet Secretary, believes it warrants further investigation, he will refer the matter to the independent adviser on ministers’ interests”.
Mr Mann said: “This is an insult to the general public’s intelligence and it shows an extraordinary inter-connectivity between News International and the Prime Minister.
“The ministerial code is very straightforward and he indeed signed the foreword of the most recent version.
He has clearly broken the code and I am sure that we can expect appropriate action to be taken by the Cabinet Secretary and a grovelling apology on Wednesday.
“Not only is the Prime Minister responsible for ensuring that all ministers abide by the code, but he is expected to uphold the highest of propriety.”
In the foreword to the code, Mr Cameron wrote last May of how the Government had a responsibility “to rebuild confidence in our political system”.
“After the scandals of recent years, people have lost faith in politics and politicians,” he wrote. “It is our duty to restore their trust.”
He said it was important that ministers were “transparent about what we do and how we do it”.
A spokesman for the Cabinet Office said Sir Gus had not yet received the letter and “will respond in due course”.


Kate McCann: It was our holiday too.


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