UK culture secretary Jeremy Hunt’s special adviser is quitting, in the row over contact between his office and News Corp over the BSkyB bid. Emails released in the Leveson inquiry showed Adam Smith had been in contact with the company about its takeover bid.
The Opposition has called for Hunt to quit, saying he fell short of his “quasi-judicial” role in ruling on the bid, he is making a statement to the House imminently.
Smith said the “content and extent of my contact” with News Corp had been done “without authorisation from the Secretary of State”.
In the “quasi-judicial” role, Hunt was meant to act with complete impartiality – but Labour says information that emerged showed he had “fallen very far short” of his duties.
Jeremy Hunt has Number 10’s backing but his position remains precarious. There are several fronts to the culture secretary’s defence.
By consulting with regulators and civil servants throughout the bid, he insists he acted with integrity and scrupulous objectivity, with the permanent secretary at the culture department agreeing that Hunt’s special advisor should act as a conduit with News Corp during the process.
Hunt argues that the texts and emails seen so far are a partial, second hand account of what was going.