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Cable's 'independent mind' on BSkyB
Vince Cable has told the Leveson Inquiry that he was able to use "an independent mind" to judge News Corp's controversial bid for BSkyB.
The Business Secretary was responsible for deciding whether Rupert Murdoch's proposed takeover of the broadcaster should go ahead before being stripped of his powers in December 2010 when he was recorded telling undercover journalists he would "declare war" on Mr Murdoch while he was considering the £8 billion bid.
Mr Cable said: "With an independent mind doesn't mean with a blank mind. Most people in public life have views, opinions.
"Probably, if they are politicians, those views and opinions have been on the record and the requirement on me and people in this position is to set those on one side for the sake of making this decision, to consider representations, the evidence, the facts - and decide on that and only on that."
The Cabinet minister said he followed the maxim: "If you can't ride two horses at once you shouldn't be in the circus."
And he defended his conduct as he weighed up the bid, which has since been abandoned, which would have seen News Corp buy the remaining 61% of BSkyB which it does not already own.
Mr Cable said: "All the decisions in the department were subject to advice from officials (and) departmental lawyers, because they were conscious that if a decision was made with bias or perceived bias then legal action could be taken, in this case through the Competition Appeals Tribunal - equivalent to a judicial review."
He said he was careful about whom he met "because any meeting would have to corroborated" and pointed out explicitly referring to the deal "could be perceived as bias".
Mr Cable told the inquiry he was previously responsible for quasi-judicial decisions when in charge of planning as a Glasgow city councillor in the 1970s. He said: "I was conscious at that stage what quasi-judicial responsibilities meant. Look at other councillors involved in planning - and there are thousands up and down the country. I think we are conscious of the need to be independent and put aside one's views in order to make a fair decision based on the evidence, and that context was quite a difficult one."
Mr Cable said he had personal concerns about the mounting influence of the Murdoch empire, but insisted they had not in any way affected his decision. "In my opinion as a politician, I believed that the Murdochs' influence, exercised through their newspapers, had become disproportionate," he said in his written evidence. Challenged as to whether this was a factor in his decision to refer the takeover bid, he replied: "It most definitely was not. This was not a factor in my decision."