Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s Career Hangs In The Balance Over BSkyB Bid

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s career is hanging in the balance after emails revealed inappropriate contact between him and James Murdoch over the BSkyB takeover. Labour has called for Hunt’s resignation after it was revealed he seemingly supported News Corporation during their bid for BSkyB. Evidence heard at the Leveson inquiry suggested Hunt had advised Murdoch that pushing through the controversial £8billion pound deal to buy all of BSkyB wouldn’t be a problem. It was claimed that information about a Parliamentary statement on the bid had been leaked to Murdoch prior to any official announcement. Internal emails detailing phone calls between Murdoch and Hunt were made public casting suspicion on the men’s dubious relationship in regards to the bid.

Hunt, who is due to give evidence at the inquiry, insists that the BSkyB bid process was rigorous and there was “nothing inappropriate” in the dialogue between the two parties. However, evidence given at the Leveson Inquiry showed Hunt had contact with News International when he was supposed to be acting in a quasi-judicial role in the public interest. Today, Murdoch was questioned about his contact with politicians before and during News Corp’s bid for BskyB (News Corp abandoned the bid in July 2011 after the phone hacking scandal hit the headlines).

The inquiry considered emails by Frederic Michel, head of public affairs at News Corp which suggested the Government “would be supportive throughout the process”. In another email sent between the parties on January 23 2011, Michel said: “He very specifically said that he was keen to get to the same outcome and wanted JRM to understand he needs to build some political cover on the process.” The next day Michel told Murdoch he had managed to get some information on Hunt’s statement about the BSkyB bid, which he was due to present to the House the next day. Michel described it as “absolutely illegal..>!”. Murdoch told the Leveson Inquiry that the reference, which included a so-called text “wink” had been a “joke”. Exeter’s Labour MP Ben Bradshaw tweeted that Hunt’s office was “basically operating as a branch office for the Murdoch empire.” The inquiry continues…

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