UK Politics

Jeremy Hunt laughs off bell clanger

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Media captionJeremy Hunt's bell-ringing clanger

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt narrowly avoided injuring bystanders when a bell he was ringing flew off its handle at an Olympics celebration.

Mr Hunt looked horrified as the brass bell sailed over the heads of a group of women on the deck of HMS Belfast.

He later laughed off the incident, comparing it to a scene from BBC comedy Twenty Twelve.

He was taking part in the All the Bells celebration on HMS Belfast to mark the start of the games.

The clearly relieved minister was caught on camera saying: "Oh, oh dear! Are you all right? Health and safety!

"Are you OK? There we are, disaster averted."

'Greatest show'

Writing later on Twitter, Mr Hunt said: "Oops bell broke taking part in Martin Creed's ringing in of the one hurt but classic #twentytwelve moment."

He told BBC News he was a "big fan" of BBC comedy Twenty Twelve, a satire about Olympic games organisers, and "I now have my very own Twenty Twelve moment".

"It was a clanger, if you'll forgive the pun," he added.

Thousands of bells have rung out across the UK to mark the official start of the Olympic Games.

Big Ben rang 40 times in three minutes while church bells, doorbells and even bicycle bells all joined in the performance.

The event was triggered by the firing of cannons on the HMS Belfast, the World War II light cruiser permanently moored on the Thames.

Speaking in Downing Street earlier, Prime Minister David Cameron said Britain was ready to welcome "the greatest show on earth" and the country must show the world "the best of Britain" over the next two weeks.

Downing Street said the PM was giving away 17 tickets he had received for the opening ceremony.

Recipients included those who had made a contribution to their communities and had helped to build the Big Society, including six graduates of National Citizen Service (NCS), Downing Street said.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has invited 14 guests to attend the ceremony. Aides said they were all people he has met over the past year and who have made a major contribution to society.

They include youth workers and "unsung heroes" of last year's riots who helped communities in London get back on their feet, as well as four military personnel from RAF Waddington, who Mr Clegg met after their return from Libya.

Mr Clegg said: "Every day I meet inspirational people who give their all to good causes and for the benefit of others.

"I rarely get a chance to show them how grateful I am, how grateful we all are, for their dedication and selflessness."

Foreign Secretary William Hague has meanwhile been addressing Chinese business leaders at a special summit aimed at drumming up business for British firms.

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