Leveson: Murdoch session leaves Hunt fighting for his career

The testimony raises many serious for the government.
The testimony raises many serious for the government.
Ian Dunt By

The appearance of James Murdoch at the Leveson inquiry has left Jeremy Hunt's career dangling by a thread and raised serious questions about the behaviour of the government.

The media secretary had a quasi-judicial role in News Corp's takeover bid for BSkyB, but emails read out during the session revealed his special adviser was regularly communicating with News Corp.

"Managed to get some info tonight [from Hunt's staff] although absolutely illegal," one email from a News Corp insider read.

Another read: "[Hunt] would get there in the end and he shared our [News Corp's] objectives"

Before he was meant to be responsible for the bid, Mr Hunt was told not to have a meeting with Mr Murdoch about it. Mr Hunt's response appears to have been to try to have a phone conversation with Mr Murdoch.

"You must be f**king joking," Mr Murdoch emailed back.

"Fine. I will text him and find a time."

Another discussion with Mr Hunt's special adviser sees the News Corp contact say it is "almost game over for the opposition".

Shadow media secretary Harriet Harman demanded Mr Hunt's resignation.

"In view of the evidence that has been adduced before the Leveson Inquiry today it appears that the secretary of state has fallen woefully short of the standards expected by his office and by the public interest," she said.

"The right thing for the secretary of state to do would be to come to this House to offer an apology and to tender his resignation."

As the afternoon wore on, bookmakers ceased taking bets on Mr Hunt's resignation. 

The testimony raises many serious issues for the government to address.

It suggests that at the very least the minister with responsibility for the BSkyB deal was giving a running commentary on the bid for News Corp – or at worst was explicitly biased towards it until the phone-hacking scandal made it politically impossible.

It also shines a light on coalition dysfunction, with George Osborne's special advisers briefing against Vince Cable's team to News Corp while the Department for Culture, Media and Sport runs at cross purposes with the Business Department.

It will also cement the impression that the government is particularly vulnerable to big business.


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