A question mark has arisen over the future of UK culture secretary Jeremy Hunt, following the release of emails by News Corp to the Leveson inquiry into phone hacking that appeared to show Hunt had indicated, ahead of a statement to parliament, that he was minded to give a green light to News Corp’s merger with BSkyB.
The Leveson inquiry was shown emails from News Corp lobbyist Frederic Michel that appeared to throw doubt on Hunt’s impartiality and suggested that News Corp’s view was that Hunt was favourable to the bid. Former BSkyB executive chairman James Murdoch also confirmed in his evidence to the inquiry that he had spoken to Hunt personally by phone.
Hunt has responded by asking the Leveson inquiry to bring forward the timing for him to give evidence. He said in a statement that some of the evidence given reported meetings and conversations that didn’t happen, and maintained that his priority had been to give the public confidence in the integrity of the process.
News Corp’s bid to merge with the UK pay TV operator was abandoned after revelations about the extent of phone hacking by the News of the World newspaper became public.