David Cameron has dismissed as "politics" a decision by Liberal Democrats to abstain in a Commons motion calling for Jeremy Hunt to be referred to the independent adviser on the Ministerial Code.
Cameron and Ed Miliband clashed repeatedly at Prime Minister's Questions over Jeremy Hunt, ahead of a Commons debate in which Lib Dems have decided to abstain from voting.
Their decision sparked anger from many Tories who believe the Lib Dems are failing to support a coalition minister.
David Cameron said that both Labour and the Tories had been accused of improper relationships with newspaper executives in the past, but added: "To be fair to the Liberal Democrats they didn't have that relationship, and their abstention tonight, I understand that point. That is politics."
The PM's words were viewed as a sideswipe at the Liberal Democrats, suggesting they'd never been important enough in the past for newspaper executives to need to bother courting them.
But Nick Clegg appeared to offer similar evidence when he spoke before the Leveson inquiry on Wednesday morning, saying that the Lib Dems had largely been ignored by newspapers before they went into government, describing how at one meal hosted by Rupert Murdoch he was put "at the very end of the table where the children sit".
In repeated clashes with Ed Miliband on why Baroness Warsi was subject to an investigation but Jeremy Hunt wasn't, David Cameron was able to produce a trump card.
The independent adviser on the Ministerial Code, Sir Alex Allan, appears to have endorsed the PM's decision not to refer Hunt because the Leveson Inquiry was now dealing with the Culture Secretary's stewardship of the BSkyB bid under oath.
A letter from Sir Alex to Cameron was published by Number 10 as the PM read it out to the Commons.
Sir Alex writes: "The fact there is an ongoing judicial inquiry probing and taking evidence under oath means I do not believe I could usefully add to the facts in this case."
Cameron insisted there was "a very significant difference" between the cases of Jeremy Hunt and Baroness Warsi, saying that Jeremy Hunt "gave a very full account of his actions to the Leveson inquiry. He followed independent advice in every part of the process."
MPs are expected to debate Jeremy Hunt as part of the opposition day motion for several hours. Tory MPs have had to cancel plans, including funerals and school sports days, to attend the vote expected at around 4pm.