6:09pm Tuesday 15th May 2012
© Press Association 2013
Labour has withdrawn a series of Parliamentary questions it wanted Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt to answer about his relations with News Corporation after a warning that MPs could jeopardise parts of the investigation into press ethics.
MPs were told sessions of the Leveson Inquiry with key figures in politics and the Murdoch news empire could be scrapped if Parliament published or debated their evidence first.
Shadow culture secretary Harriet Harman said the party had revoked 15 written parliamentary questions it had tabled for Mr Hunt to answer but would return to them "if necessary".
It comes after growing criticism from MPs that the inquiry is being used as an excuse to block their access to information and ability to question ministers.
Commons Speaker John Bercow has told the House it was pre-eminent after a number of politicians raised concerns about the issue.
Lord Justice Leveson issued a robust defence of his inquiry into media standards insisting he "was not in any way" seeking to challenge the right of Parliament to examine any of the issues his inquiry is covering.
But he warned MPs he would drop key strands of his investigation if the neutrality of witnesses and evidence was compromised by the actions of Parliament.
That includes evidence from Fred Michel, News Corporation public affairs executive, and Adam Smith, Mr Hunt's former special adviser, who exchanged a series of emails that have sparked allegations about the impartiality the Culture Secretary when dealing with a the controversial BSkyB deal.
Lord Justice Leveson said: "As for the evidence that the inquiry has obtained, it is not for me to say anything about what should or should not be placed before Parliament and when that should happen.
"In particular, I am not, in any way, seeking to challenge the ability of Parliament to proceed as it thinks appropriate."
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