James Murdoch at Leveson as-it-happened

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James Murdoch: Back in the dock at Leveson
James Murdoch: Back in the dock at Leveson

09:22 - Good morning. The Murdoch show is back on the road again. Since we saw them last, at the media committee in parliament, we've seen more arrests, a new newspaper, and Murdoch junior step down from more jobs than most people enjoy in a lifetime. Now it's time for Lord Leveson to wield his mumbling, eyebrow-raised weapons and Robert Jay, counsel to the inquiry, to employ those Columbo-like mannerisms of his. As usual with James Murdoch, the key facts centre on what he knew and when. The 'for Nevile' email, which inevitably gets mentioned at these things, is the moment the company understood hacking was not the work on "one rogue reporter". News of the World editor Colin Myler and legal boss Tom Crone say they then had a meeting which made the reality of the situation perfectly clear to James. he says the reality of the situation was not perfectly clear to him. Expect much management-speak from the US-based executive and a great deal of 'I can't quite recall'. Kick off should be about 10am.

10:00 - Murdoch arrived a while ago, but the session hasn't started yet. Remember, everything that is said here - unlike the Commons select committees - is said on oath. Misleading a committee has its own (weird, archaic, uncertain) repercussions. But it's not on oath.

10:02 - Apparently his middle names are Rupert Jacob. Anyway, he's on. He wears a dark grey suit and pulling that same innocent, professional look he strapped on his face throughout the media committee hearing. He is already taking a dreadfully long time to impart basic pieces of information, such as the job description of a man mentioned in his witness testimony. Jay rattles through Murdoch's CV.

10:05 - Murdoch says he resigned as non-exec chairman of BSkyB to avoid becoming a "Lightening rod" for controversy. He says that as a businessman he wanted to focus on the customers and... oh, it's all gone management-speak. He is now discussing a "management culture which is transparent internally". You know the sort of thing. He offers more information and Jay, God bless him, says: "No. No thank you." He does ask if he thought the management culture was open, however. Murdoch says he instituted regular meetings and included the editors. The new culture took time to instil, he adds. Was Colin Myler [NOTW editor] open with you? "At the time I had no reason to believe otherwise".


10:10 - Were there deficiencies in establishing legal risks? Murdoch says it's self-evident there was "insufficient transparency around those issues". There was ample opportunity to discuss these sort of issues. Murdoch says he had a "reasonable expectation" that having senior legal managers closely involved with newsrooms would offer protection "which it ultimately did not provide".

10:13 - He is asked if he read NOTW regularly. "I wouldn't say I read all of it." Did you see any risks associated with its particular brand, which includes "a predilection for salacious gossip". Jay is hilarious. Murdoch says it wasn't just gossip, it also did scandal. Flash of irritation from Jay, who repeats that he says it was just part of the brand. Murdoch says he received assurances around journalistic ethics and code of practice. "The ethical risk and the legal risk around it were in the hand of the editor. I wasn't in the business of deciding what to put into the newspaper. It was only fair I was given assurances by them with respect to the risks they were taking." Jay asks what the legal bill was. Murdoch says there was provision for "certain legal liabilities". On Max Mosely, Murdoch says the result of the case was disappointing. "The story shouldn't have been run." He says he doesn't remember the bills.

10:19 - Leveson's first intervention. He asks what questions Murdoch asked after the Mosely litigation. "Would you consider that a job for you?" he asks. Quite tough from Leveson. Murdoch says he did ask, but the editors were defiant. Murdoch says he wasn't told about the judge's specific ruling. "You didn't feel it was necessary to get into more detail when your senior management team got it spectacularly wrong?" Murdoch says the disappointment was "made clear to Mr Myler".

10:21 - Jay says is this a case of "the ends justifying the means". This is what happens when profit is the only goal. Murdoch says he has spent much time discussing enterprise. Remember, he made that speech, a lifetime ago now, attacking the BBC and saying profit was the only guarantee of a decent press. "The profitability of NOTW did not save it," Murdoch says.

10:25 - Murdoch says he doesn't know the politics of Sun editor Mohan. Jay suggests the man would readily represent his and his father's political views particularly at election time. He knew Brookes politics, Jay says, and therefore Mohan's. OK, now we're finally on phone-hacking.

10:26 - We start with the 'for Neville' email. Jay asks about the June 2008 meeting. When he appeared in front of the select committee he said he had not been shown the email at that meeting. "That's correct and that remains my position. I stand by that," Murdoch says.

10:28 - Murdoch says he did not receive a briefing on the trial and conviction of Goodman [royal editor first found guilty of phone hacking]. He says he thought Mulcaire [private detective] was a contractor working for Goodman. Leveson steps in. I understand you take the view you were given assurances, he says. But you were coming into a company new; it was strongly associated with your family. The reputational position must have been important to you. But did you never ask 'how did this happen? Especially to a senior reporter. And why didn't internal governance pick it up. "It was clear to me that in the news room in the past it had not been tight enough and that's why a new editor had been appointed," he replies. He again says this was for the editor and the legal manager. Again, Murdoch pours the blame onto the underlings. Leveson considers the answer for a moment or two. "You understand the reason for my question," he says.

10:45 - Murdoch looks at a note of the May 27 meeting. He says that if the meeting had really gone into all these points he would have remembered it. Jay is sceptical "Are you sure about that, Mr Murdoch? It seems to be faithfully transcribed." Murdoch: "My view is the conversation I don't remember would have been to wait for the silk's view on damages." He cites a sentence that says "James would say" – as if, he would if he knew. Jay says one interpretation of it is that Crone and Myler were communicating that Goodman was making accusations about others. Murdoch says he does not recall that. "I do not recall this conversation with Mr Myler." Many have used the 'don't recall' defence at Leveson, but Murdoch Jn is the top of the class. Leveson: "Can you think of a reason why Myler or Crone would keep this information from you?" Murdoch says it's something he "struggled with as well". He points to a line about "cutting out the cancer" and implies it's because he was a crusader who would have changed what was going on. Jay says that if you look at the emails about phone-hacking being "rife" it shows Myler was concerned Murdoch realise that. That's consistent with him making that point to him on May 27th. Murdoch says he was with his kids when he got these emails, he was distracted, so he chatted with Crone that night and said they would have the meeting with Myler later.

10:51 - We're now on the short meeting, where Murdoch says he wasn't told anything. He says they were "eager" and "anxious". Jay says the reason they wanted to settle the case in question because there were serious reputational risks to the company.

10:58 - Jay: Did you not ask, why has a some of thousands been offered without my knowledge (they had gone over his limit by a factor of ten). Myler sensed that Taylor (whose court case it was) was blackmailing the company. Jay starts reading the minutes, which are enjoyably full of swearing. Jay swears very capably.

11:04 - Jay says there was a risk that even if they paid off Taylor the silence "might not happen". It's getting problematic here for Murdoch. He says if the meeting had briefed him on everything since 2004 it would have been a longer meeting. Jay - not really, because if this note is true you wanted to think through the options.

11:07 - Jay keeps pushing that more was said at the meeting than Murdoch is letting on. He says he was given reassurances that the newsroom had been investigated. "I;ve been very consistent about it. I don;t think that short of knowing they want you to have a full picture I would have been able to know that at the time." Jay moves on, but Leveson keeps at it. He asks if there was a culrtuee of over-paying on litigation to prevent reputational risks, regardless o the veracity of the accusations. Murdoch is much more comfortable with this question, for obvious reasons and anyway says he wouldn't do that.

11:12 - Murdoch treads a very delicate line. He must know enough to still be a competent leader but not so much that he's culpable. You almost admire his balancing act. "I was told enough to authorise negotiations but not enough to turn over a whole lot of stones that had already been turned over."

11:14 - A disclosure in the Sienna Miller litigation made it obvious it wasn't 'one lone reporter'. We're now at the point where Murdoch insists he found out about the extent of phone-hacking. Jay says Murdoch rubbished the Guardian story on phone-hacking and the media committee report, but they were vindicated. Did that concern you? Murdoch says it did.

11:16 - Was the aggressive defence a cultural problem? Murdoch says no, but admits there is tribalism and therefore people have a defensive knee jerk reaction to events. Just because it comes from a commercial rival (Guardian) or a political agenda (Tom Watson) doesn't mean you shouldn't look at it dispassionately. He admits the NOTW was "cavalier about risk and that's a matter of huge regret".

11:19 - And with that, the inquiry stops for a ten minute break. We'll be back when they are.

11:30 - Aaaand we're back. Jay is discussing Premier League rights. Murdoch appears to have been concerned about the European Commission intervening with the system. Murdoch had a phone call with Tony Blair. He says he wanted to "make the PM aware of the issues". Jay says he wouldn't have had the "bad taste" to make a direct request, but he was "subtly communicating" his concerns and making sure he understood them.

11:35 - We're on Cameron. Did Murdoch ever doubt his suitability to be prime minister (Murdoch senior is said to dislike him). Murdoch junior says he didn't think of him in that way. Jay says the meetings were to understand Cameron's macro-economic policy. "Just in general the direction...." Murdoch says. "the right thing to do economically, for business, for society." The Sun wanted to know he was on the right page, Jay says. Murdoch: "Any newspaper was considering the policies being put forward and making their judgement." Jay suggests his interests went further than that and related to specific industry policy affecting his business. Murdoch says he was already public about his views. Jay suggests he would have communicated views on plurality and asked his. Murdoch says it was more general. "The purpose of these meetings were on a broad range of topics, foreign policy - lots of things. I'm not sure if knowing where the leader of the opposition stands on an issue is a commercial advantage."

11:39 - Murdoch says he did not do business by going for specific areas. He was "flattered" to be invited to a leader of the opposition event. Jay: Your evidence suggests a Labour government would have been friendlier to a BSkyB bid than a Tory/coalition government. Murdoch emits lots of management-speak. Now we're on the Sun's decision to endorse the Tories. Cameron learnt this from James Murdoch after they'd had chats in the autumn of 2010. "This must have been welcome news to Mr Cameron," Jay says. "It seemed that way." "Did you discuss the timing of the endorsement?" Murdoch says they wanted to wait for the end of the conference season, so they could see what Brown might say. Jay suggests it was timed to be at the worst possible moment for Brown. Murdoch disingenuously says the article is more about Labour than the Tories, an absurd point to make. Jay returns to discussing regulatory issues.

11:48 - We're now on the Xmas dinner with Cameron and the Brookes'. It was two days after Cable was removed from his responsibilities on BSkyB after "showing acute bias" . That's the first bit of real Murdoch we've seen here today. There was a tinge of irritation in his voice. "I expressed a hope things would be dealt with in a way that was appropriate and judicial".

11:51 - "It was a tiny side conversation ahead of a dinner where all these people were there. It wasn't really a discussion, if you will," he adds.

11:53 - That admission will have prompted shouting in Downing Street. The government has previously said Cameron did not discuss Cable's replacement at that dinner. Now it appears a "tiny side conversation" took place. Jeremy Hunt eventually got the job, which turned into a rugby pass once the phone-hacking row exploded. He was visibly irritated with having to back down in the face of widespread outrage and after much hesitation and buck passing, it fell through.

11:56 - We're now on phone calls between Murdoch and Hunt. Jay suggests he was a cheerleader for the Murdoch clan. "I wouldn't describe it that way...I don't think so," Murdoch says. he rejects the idea his calls with Hunt were to "oil the wheels", saying: "I don't recall details. It might have been to update him on the bid."

12:01 - Jay asks if Murdoch is a close friend of George Osborne. He says they're friendly, but not close friends. Jay says a Guardian piece says they get on well. "As I've said I'm friendly with Mr Osborne," he admits. Has he been to his grace and favour home? Yes. Did you ever discuss the BSkyB bid? Jay says he probably did once in which he said it had taken a long time and was irritated it went to Ofcom. Jay asks if there is a distinction between his public and private advocacy. The former is appropriate; the latter suggests he seeks to gain an unfair or covert advantage over his opponents.

12:06 - Leveson interjects. "The press have an enormous megaphone. Do you think you obtain greater access for yourself as a businessman because you have the weight of press interests behind you?" Murdoch says politicians are eager to get their points across but he hasn't spent much time with them personally. Most of his career is in making television in the UK. The starts blabbering on, saying nothing. Jay brings up his discussion with politicians before the general election. Did he now realise they were very interested in knowing whether his newspapers would support their party. "I think all politicians would be interested to know that. That's very much part of the way they see their job," he answers. Jay: In the run up to the election it must occur to you that the balance of power is more with you then with them. Murdoch: "I hope they don't think that's the case because we live in an environment of such extraordinary choice in media." He says in Westminster "it might feel people might think that" but it isn't. Jay says "I'm not concerned with reality". There's a laugh. Leveson interrupts. "I'm not sure you mean that. I certainly am." Lots of laughs. Jay's point is the perception is what matters to behaviour.

12:13 - Twitter is having fun with James Murdoch's ability to recall events with a #helpjamesmurdoch hashtag. John Prescott's contribution? 'The Sun is a British newspaper'.

12:19 - Jay moves onto a "discreet" issue. It's an Independent event. It makes Murdoch laugh. They say he went round there and swore at them all. "That's not correct Mr Jay." He offers his version. He says he had a meeting in the building with Associated newspapers. "I was upset and concerned because the Independent had put up giant billboards saying 'Rupert Murdoch won't decide this election'. I thought they were personalising something against my family I found inappropriate. I went into the front door of the Independent. I found Mr Kelner [the editor]. We went into his private office and discussed by concerns." Murdoch's version of events is basically the same as the other one. He says "Mr Kelner had been availing himself of the hospitality of my family for years."

12:23 - Is it fair to say Brooks bore the brunt of meetings with politicians? Murdoch says yes, in a way that involves considerably more words, obviously. The Murdoch's spent some time in 2009 discussing the Sun's support at the election. This is the period where every headline was about equipment for troops in Afghanistan, if you remember. That's when they started discussing the likely outcome of the election and who to support. The political editor was invited to those meetings.


12:28 - We're back on the News Corp bid for BSkyB.


12:30 - By the way, here's Murdoch's written statement to Leveson.

12:32 - No. 10 says it has no response to Murdoch's statement that there was a discussion of the BSkyB bid in December 2010. It wants the public inquiry to go ahead without comment for now. Hmmm. The PM's spokesman did say Cameron was not aware of inappropriate conversations between hunt and News Corp however. Double hmmmm.


12:36 - Simon Kelner just tweeted this: "J Murdoch says I was 'availing myself of his family's hospitality for a number of years'? Evidence? Complete slur."

12:42 - And this from the PM's spokesman: "I think everyone expects the prime minster to be called ... and he will answer the questions that are put."

12:44 - Back at the inquiry, Jay is highlighting how Hunt's adviser told Murdoch's adviser that "UK govt would be supportive throughout" on the Sky bid. That was in an email of 15 June 2011. Murdoch says that was not "inappropriate" - it was just a statement of what the government was thinking at the time. Jay says they've removed his replies from the emails they're all looking at. "None of your replies are of any interest apart from one, which I'll come to later," he says. Ominous.

12:44 - Back at the inquiry, Jay is highlighting how Hunt's adviser told Murdoch's adviser that "UK govt would be supportive throughout" on the Sky bid. That was in an email of 15 June 2011. Murdoch says that was not "inappropriate" - it was just a statement of what the government was thinking at the time. Jay says they've removed his replies from the emails they're all looking at. "None of your replies are of any interest apart from one, which I'll come to later," he says. Ominous.

12:47 - Kelner is still furious, tweeting away. he just wrote this: "Have never once been to a Murdoch summer or Christmas party. Unlike most of the political or media establishment." As the Murdoch testimony goes on, the responses to it are taking off in Fleet Street and Westminster.

12:50 - One of Murdoch's underlings, Fred Michel, read a blog by BBC man Robert Peston saying the decision might go to Ofcom. Within eight minutes of publication he was badgering his government sources - mostly special advisers. The fascinating thing is how much information he gets from them and how valuable it is.

12:57 - Jay reads out plans, which included briefing all key Lib Dems. The meeting with David Laws was part of that briefing process. Murdoch admits he was advised by Cable's special adviser that they should brief key Lib Dems in coming weeks. There was a flash of anger in Murdoch then, he was dropping his guard. But with that, the session ends and we break for lunch. See you at 2pm.

14:01 - And we're back. Jay reads an email from Michel to Murdoch. Alex Salmond was apparently also trying to lobby Cable on the BSkyB bid. Did he have a conversation with the Scottish first minister? Murdoch says Jay is misrepresenting the evidence, particularly the 'mission accomplished' header of the email, which he says relates to a separate point.

14:04 - Murdoch continues in the same vein. "This is just legitimate advocacy." Again Jay asks about Salmond. He says he did and made the same points to him. Jay says Cable was taking an appropriate line by rejecting a meeting and trying to have an independent view. Murdoch says no, he wanted to "lay out the issues and our analysis of the relevant plurality and competition concerns". Later they realised he was taking other people's advice which clearly frustrated him. "Do you think it's appropriate you are getting confidential information about what's going on at a high level of government?" jay asks. Murdoch doesn't answer the question, he says he cared about the information not who gave it.

14:10 - This channel of communication is reliant on George Osborne's special advisor, Rupert Harrison. He was giving details of Cable's actions to Michael.

14:13 - "I suspect Mr Jeremy Hunt is not long for this world politically, but it's going to get worse for Cameron," Labour frontbencher Chris Bryant just tweeted.

14:14 - It's a fascinating insight into communications between government and News Corp. Harrison told Murdoch Cable would take the BSkyB decision "without even reading the legal advice". Interesting information about how the department for business and the treasury were operating. Now Murdoch says he was receiving "impromptu" calls from other figures in government. Hunt tried to ring Murdoch on Nov 15. He'd been told by his permanent secretary not to meet Murdoch and was "very frustrated about it". Hunt said he'd had strong legal advice not to meet but to talk on a mobile instead. Murdoch responded: "You must be f*cking joking, Fine. I will text him and find a time"

14:19 - "As I said, I was displeased," Murdoch explains. He says the Department for business didn't want any dialogue. So basically, Cable turned down a meeting, Murdoch's people hassled Osborne's special advisor, and secured a phone call with Hunt, the media secretary, because he could not meet during a judicial process.

14:23 - Michel then emails Murdoch to say he will have "a session with Hunt's adviser next Wednesday - Hunt asks for "relevant documents privately". This is gripping stuff. Serious problems for Cameron and Hunt here - and more material to emphasis the sense of a dysfunctional government briefing against itself. This is also relevant to the row over susceptibility big business influence on the back of the cash-for-access row. Now we hear Michael debriefing on the meeting. He agreed with News Corp and found the Ofcom report "biased". It said they would "find a way" for them to meet at Christmas. Jay says that could be Hunt himself or his office - various advisers etc.

14:27 - Bookies are frantically slashing odds on a Hunt resignation now. He was 50/1 to be first out the Cabinet this morning. Now he's 6/1.

14:31 - By December 2010, Brooks was also calling government ministers. By this point the full weight of News Corp was clearly being felt. Now we move onto Clegg. Michel spoke to Clegg's adviser and said he was "furious". At this point we are now at the point where the splash about Cable's war on Murdoch has emerged in the press. Any activity from Hunt after he is given responsibility for the BSkyB bid will absolutely destroy his career. Already, he has serious questions to answer about how he took on responsibility in the first place without declaring it.

14:31 - That communication involved talking about Cable being "blackmailed" by the way. Murdoch was unclear on what precisely that meant. At this point in the story Hunt has the job. Michel emails to say they can meet with Hunt and his special advisor Adam Smith.

14:39 - Andrew Neil of the BBC just tweeted: "Westminster air thick with speculation re Jeremy Hunt's future in light of Murdoch testimony"

14:40 - Jay says they'll keep looking at the contacts and see "whether they fall into the appropriate box or the inappropriate box".

14:41 - At this point their communication with Hunt was "just to give colour around these things" Murdoch says. "There was lots of selective leaking going on right now" - most of it against the bid, so they wanted to offer balance.

14:44 - Again Murdoch is asked if it's appropriate he was receiving insights into communication between government ministers. Murdoch lashes out: "Hunt took every word of Ofcoms advice until we cancelled the transaction." Jay accepts they can't necessarily trust the email chain, but that's a point for now, not them. An email from Michel on Jan 10 suggests the Hunt special advisor was trying to push this through, but was he just telling Murdoch what he wanted to hear? Now we turn to a more official email. "Do you notice a difference in the tone?" Jay asks.

14:46 - "This is a large-scale transaction that was in the hands of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport... and it was entirely reasonable to try to communicate with relevant policy makers about the merits of what we were proposing," Murdoch says. Jay ignores him and reads another email.. Michel is reporting back on discussions with Hunt's special advisor. "You're given detail her on a confidential basis of timetables and indeed Mr Hunt's view of the merits of your case." The email says that once he announces publically it is "almost game over for the opposition". Remarkable.

14:49 - Jay reminds Murdoch this is happening while Hunt is operating in a quasi-judicial role. "The game had been over because the undertaking had been enacted and it was so strong." Jay says what matters is he was reciving information about a judgement not through the judgement. Murdoch hedges. "Is the answer yes or no?" Jay demands. Murdoch still hedges. "This is the third time you;ve told us that," Jay says, exasperated. "I understood the first time and I understand it this time. All you are saying is how good the case was."

14:52 - An email from Michel says Hunt said "he would get there in the end and he shared our [news Corp's] objectives". Jay: "If it wasn't for the PR disaster of the Guardian piece [on Dowler] you would have got these shares wouldn't you?" Murdoch: "The legal test had been examined and the undertakings were strong enough."

14:55 - A Guardian journalist just quoted from Hunt's Commons statements on March 3rd. "At every stage of this process we have sought to be completely transparent, impartial and fair." It's damning stuff.

14:56 - Oh dear. The next email. "Managed to get some info tonight. Although absolutely illegal." Murdoch says it was a joke. "It was absolutely unethical wasn't it?" Jay says. Murdoch: "I'm not familiar with the ins and outs of Westminster protocol."

14:59 - That information was market sensitive by the way. It could very well have been illegal. There were gasps in the room when Jay read it out. Paddy Power just suspended betting on Hunt leaving Cabinet. Events moving quickly.

15:01 - "Their office is trying to cover themselves," Murdoch insists. He's blabbering on. His composure is completely changed here. Is he trying to attack Cameron and Hunt? Because all of a sudden Hunt remembers everything, he speaks concisely (more concisely anyway) and confidently. This does turn the spotlight towards the government, of course. 'Sources close to' Hunt (i.e.: either his special advisor or himself) say he is not about to resign.

15:05 - Hunt believes the "process is in a good place, media attention on the remedy has disappeared" the latest email reads. Lots of excitement from Twitter at the fact Murdoch relied on the wink emoticon in that 'illegal' email to suggest it was a joke. Will this be the first ministerial resignation to hinge on an emoticon?

15:09 - The emails just keep on coming. Now Salmond is being brought into it. He was willing to call Hunt "whenever we need him to". Incredible. There are so many jaw-dropping lines here it's hard to keep typing. By the way, much mirth at this line: "I have managed to get JH [Hunt] quickly before he went in to see Swan Lake."

15:13 - And with that we take a break. We need it.

15:26 - And we're back. Murdoch consistently answers questions about the legality and ethics of the communications with analysis of the messages themselves. For instance: "You must have been delighted to receive confidential info," Jay says. "No it was awful news," Murdoch replies.

15:34 - We're now in May 2011. Hunt promises Murdoch private advance notice of any key issues objectors to the BSKyB bid raise.

15:38 - This is a remarkable switch by Murdoch. No-one is talking about him anymore. It's all Hunt. News Corp were sensible to pass over those emails. PMQs tomorrow will be savage. And we've still got Murdoch senior tomorrow and the day after giving evidence.

15:41 - "The reason you do not appear to be evincing much surprise is that you expect government to respond favourably to a bid by News Corp since support had been given to the Conservative party by the Sun," Jay says. "You are somewhat blind to what might appear to the rest of us to be obvious, that this is in part a quid pro quo for that report." Murdoch: "I wouldn't make that trade, it would be inappropriate to do so and I just don't do business that way."

15:49 - Murdoch is asked his view on the role of regulation in the media. It's a bit of a let-down after the gripping stuff we've just been watching.

15:53 - As the session winds down, the aftershocks begin. Labour MP John Mann has written to the Cabinet secretary calling for investigation into contact between the government and News Corp during the BSkyB bid.

16:01 - At the end of that debate Leveson says Murdoch has "failed to give him an answer". Murdoch says: "I think that's above my pay grade." Leveson: "I doubt it." Jay starts asking about his 2009 speech in which he attacked the BBC and said profit was the best mark of a strong independent media. he says his view has changed slightly, but not enormously.

16:03 - Murdoch admits there are other ways to get media independence but he haas less "faith in their durability". Jay asks if weak external controls require strong internal controls. This allows Murdoch to express himself at length, which is not necessarily a good idea.

16:05 - At the afternoon lobby, the prime minister's spokesman has said Cameron sticks to his account of that Xmas dinner at the Brooks residence, says Hunt can be expected to appear at the Leveson inquiry, and stressed No. 10 had seen the information about Hunt and his communications on the Leveson website. Can you hear the Jaws soundtrack?

16:06 - Cameron has "full confidence" in Hunt, the spokesman says.

16:08 - Jay stops asking questions with the most charmingly dismissive attitude imaginable. "Well, thank you very much Mr..." and then he just stops bothering talking. Leveson jumps in to ask about the PCC.

16:11 - Interesting. The PM may have confidence in Hunt but his spokesman refused to say whether he had confidence in the process followed by his department over the BSkyB bid. Sources close to Hunt ay he is not even considering resignation and expects to give his own account of events at Leveson. That will be useful to him. He can use a Leveson appearance to buy some time and then sacrifice his own special advisor and Michel. Unlikely to work, but it offers a ray of light for the media secretary.

16:15 - Leveson ends his questions.

16:16 - OK, that's it. Six straight hours of serious political drama. We'll be back for Rupert Murdoch and PMQs tomorrow at 10am. See you then.

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