Press briefing: afternoon 25 April 2012
This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government
The Prime Minister's Spokesperson (PMS) answered questions on Leveson and the economy.
Asked whether the PMS could clarify the number of times Rupert Murdoch had met the PM, the PMS said that Downing Street had published a list of all the PM’s meetings.
Asked to clarify on the rules for ministers on competition referral decisions, the PMS said that the principles of the process were to assure that it was a fair one.
Asked whether the PM thought the process was a fair one, the PMS referred the journalist to the statement made by the Culture Secretary. The Culture Secretary said he had acted properly and was confident that when he sat before the Leveson Inquiry, the public would see that he had acted scrupulously fairly.
Asked whether the letter from the Cabinet Secretary would be published, the PMS referred the question to the Cabinet Office.
Asked whether the Culture Secretary was confident his special adviser had acted appropriately, the PMS said that Adam Smith had accepted that his actions had overstepped the mark. Asked whether the Culture Secretary should be held responsible if it turned out that NewsCorp were tipped off about the final decision, the PMS said that these were issues that the Leveson Inquiry would be considering.
Asked whether the PM was happy that the Culture Secretary had acted within the ministerial code, the PMS said that the PM had made his position clear in the House of Commons. He believed the Culture Secretary has acted properly.
Asked whether the PM had conducted an inquiry to come to that conclusion, the PMS said that there was already an ongoing public inquiry, but the PM believed the Culture Secretary had acted properly.
Asked whether the PM had received a short briefing on the actions of the Culture Secretary, the PMS said that the PM was satisfied that the Culture Secretary had acted appropriately. He had taken independent advice throughout the process.
Asked whether the PM was not suspicious considering the actions of the special advisor, the PMS said that all decisions were taken by the Culture Secretary and they were based on independent advice. The reasons behind the decisions were published when they were taken.
Asked whether before the transfer of responsibility from Business Secretary to the Culture Secretary the PM was aware of the Culture Secretary’s views on the bid, the PMS said that the decision to transfer the responsibility to the Culture Secretary was agreed by the Cabinet Secretary.
Asked whether the Culture Secretary had discussed the bid before the transfer of responsibility, the PMS said that the PM had not had any inappropriate discussions about the bid with the Culture Secretary or anyone else.
Asked why the PM was so confident that the Culture Secretary had acted properly, the PMS said that the PM was confident because independent advice was sought at each stage of the decision making process.
Asked whether the PM thought the Culture Secretary should cooperate with the Leveson Inquiry, the PMS said the PM thought he should.
Asked whether the inquiry should review private emails and correspondence, the PMS said that was an issue for the Leveson Inquiry.
Asked whether the PM was planning to make a speech about the economy, the PMS said the government was going to stick to its plans on the economy, reducing the deficit to keep interest rates low.
Asked whether the PM agreed that the recession had been made in Downing Street, the PMS said that the country had experienced a very deep recession and a severe financial crisis. We were not immune to what was happening other countries and the recovery would be tough.
Asked whether households were partly to blame for building up big debts, the PMS said that the previous boom had seen a big build up in the debts of households, business and financial institutions.