Jeremy Hunt, the UK culture secretary, is fighting for his political life after James Murdoch’s evidence to the Leveson press ethics inquiry portrayed him as constantly feeding back information and advice to News Corp as its bid for BSkB bogged down in competition reviews.
Hunt, a self-described ‘cheerleader’ for News International and BSkyB, was not involved in decisions on the takeover at first but was drafted in after Vince Cable the business secretary was removed from the process after he was taped by the Daily Telegraph saying he would deliberately veto the deal just to stop the Murdoch’s expansion. Hunt publically distanced himself from the News and the Murdochs cancelling a meeting on the advice of lawyers.
However, email traffic revealed by News shows that a lot of information was passed from the minister’s office to News. The emails are mainly internal from Frederic Michel, head of public affairs at News Corp to James Murdoch and refer constantly to conversations between Michel and ‘JH’.
Hunt is claiming that these categorically do not refer to contact directly betweem him and Michel. Michel has agreed they refer to contacts with various people in the Department, particularly his special advisor.