The transcripts of the official inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press. More…

My recollection is the following: that the Prime Minister and I heard, as I said, almost at exactly the same time as we were leaving this joint press conference. He and I then had a brief conversation in his office, the Prime Minister's office. I remember saying that I was very keen that I should see Vince Cable myself first. It's only normal. He's a Liberal Democrat Secretary of State and I felt it right that I should hear from Vince Cable first, and seek to make decisions with Vince Cable.

Dr Cable then came to my office early afternoon. We talked about it. I think he quite quickly appreciated that this was a very serious issue. There were already I think, I think I'm right in remembering, already calls for his resignation and all the rest of it.

I remember having calls with him where he pondered whether one way forward would be for him to transfer the responsibility for the decision on the bid from himself to one of his ministers in his own department, I think he mentioned Ed Davey, a Liberal Democrat minister in his department at the time, and I remember saying I thought that was unlikely to do the trick.

I also remember that my strong political instinct, above and beyond everything else, was to protect Dr Cable and make sure that he was not ejected from office. I was very -- obviously he's a friend and a valued colleague and an important member of the government, and I certainly didn't feel at first glance and I certainly don't now think that it was a sort of hanging offence. But I did also recognise, which is partly why I was quite frustrated that it all happened, that it made it impossible for him to carry on responsibility for the decision.

And then after that, there were -- I think the Prime Minister and I had maybe two, three telephone conversations. I remember that Gus O'Donnell, now Lord O'Donnell, the then Cabinet Secretary, came to see me. We discussed at the time the idea that quickly emerged of transferring responsibility from Dr Cable to Jeremy Hunt at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, and I asked some questions of Gus O'Donnell of that, and, well, as we know, then the decision was taken towards the end of the day.

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