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LONDON — British Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt told BBC News on Friday that he will hand over private e-mails and text messages with his special adviser surrounding the BSkyB takeover bid mounted by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.
He will supply them to the Leveson Inquiry into media ethics, which on Tuesday questioned Murdoch son and News Corp. deputy COO James Murdoch about communications between a BSkyB lobbyist and the secretary’s office that the opposition Labour Party criticized as inappropriate. The party called for Hunt’s resignation.
The correspondence would include messages to his special adviser Adam Smith, who sensationally quit his post after James Murdoch’s appearance before the Leveson Inquiry.
“I will be handing over all my private texts and e-mails to my special adviser to the Leveson inquiry, and I am confident they will vindicate that I handled the BSkyB merger process with total propriety,” Hunt said.
Amid forensic questioning of James Murdoch on Tuesday, the panel’s chief inquisitor Robert Jay described Hunt as a “cheerleader” for the conglomerate during the review of the proposed full BSkyB takeover by News Corp., which controls about 38 percent of the satellite TV firm. Murdoch replied that such a characterization was “unfair.”
But the session set the British media and Twitter alight with details of e-mail exchanges and text messages — supplied to the inquiry by News Corp. chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch — between James Murdoch and Hunt amid the review of the BSkyB deal.
Smith resigned after admitting his contacts with a News Corp. lobbyist “at times went too far.”
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