Flurry of letters puts on the pressure over BSkyB discussions

Media secretary Jeremy Hunt was handed responsibility for the BSkyB bid
Media secretary Jeremy Hunt was handed responsibility for the BSkyB bid

By Ian Dunt

David Cameron is being told to "come clean" over his discussions about BSkyB with the Murdoch empire, after Labour sent a flurry of letters demanding answers.

Downing Street has been struggling to answer exactly which discussions took place over Rupert Murdoch's BSkyB bid during social meetings at the turn of the year.

"The signs are that David Cameron still does not get it," said shadow media secretary Ivan Lewis.


"David Cameron and George Osborne treated warnings about Andy Coulson with contempt and failed to put a proper distance between themselves and senior News Corp executives during the consideration of the BSkyB bid.

"A tangled web of their own making will not go away until they and their Cabinet colleagues give full and frank answers to legitimate questions."

Returning to the Commons after he cut short his Africa trip this month, Mr Cameron refused to confirm whether he discussed the BSkyB deal with Rebekah Brooks and James Murdoch.

Their meeting took place during a social event just days after taking responsibility for the deal from Vince Cable and handing it to media secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Hours later, Mr Hunt accidentally confirmed that Mr Cameron had discussed the bid during the meeting but insisted the conversation has been above-board.

Downing Street argues that Mr Cameron's discussions with the Murdoch clan are irrelevant because he had no power to affect the outcome of the deal.

But critics say it is naive to pretend the prime minister's view would have had no influence on the media secretary.

In the final event the deal fell apart in the intense scrutiny that followed the phone-hacking scandal.

Various Cabinet ministers received letters from Labour today asking over 50 questions which it says have not been addressed by the government.

"We moved quickly to publish all meetings with editors and proprietors," Downing Street said.

Mr Cameron has had 26 separate meetings with executives from News International since the general election.

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