Olympics 2012: Rupert Murdoch Proves Sport and Politics Mix
LONDON – Mobile phone footage showing News Corp. chief Rupert Murdoch shaking hands and laughing with British culture secretary Jeremy Hunt has fanned the flames of controversy about the relationship between the media mogul and the British government.
The footage, filmed by ITN news, shows a brief meeting between the two outside the Aquatics Center in the Olympic Park during Murdoch's scheduled visit to the games as a guest of London mayor Boris Johnson.
Murdoch and Hunt have both made the headlines earlier this year as the Leveson inquiry picked over the bones of Hunt's handling of News Corp's BSkyB bid.
Hunt's office told the BBC the meeting between the two outside the Olympics was an "exchange in passing."
News Corp told the same site it has "no comment" to make on the two's meet and greet.
But one Labour MP, Jim Sheridan, told the media the footage suggests a lack of contrition from Hunt on his role in the BSkyB bid which came in for heavy criticism.
Sheridan, who sits on the Commons committee which probed the phone-hacking affair, told the BBC: "It looks like the relationship [between Mr. Hunt and Mr. Murdoch] is as close as ever.
"The relationship between the Conservative Party and the Murdoch empire still looks strong."
Hunt faced strong calls for his resignation following evidence given during the Leveson inquiryinto media ethics and the relationship of media and politics.
Previous testimony there by other people had led to calls for his resignation amid criticism of what was seen as Hunt's pro-News Corp. stance.
Hunt took over responsibility for the review of the BSkyB bid, which was scrapped amid the phone hacking scandal, after business secretary Vince Cable had told under-cover reporters that he had declared war on Murdoch - a comment seen as causing him to be biased in the review.
And Murdoch himself has appeared before MPs including Sheridan and the Leveson inquiry over the course of last 18 months.
"And after everything that's gone on, the very fact that Boris Johnson invited Murdoch to the Olympics is outrageous.
"What do Milly Dowler's family make of that I wonder? There appears to be no contrition whatsoever for the mistakes," Sheridan said.
Another Labour MP, John Spellar, told the Daily Express the meeting "demonstrates that Jeremy Hunt has no judgment of what his job entails and no common sense.”
Hunt was in the Olympic Park to watch GB swimmer Rebecca Adlington's 800 meter medal hopes end in a bronze.