Was Jeremy Hunt an impartial judge of BSkyB bid?

  • 24 April 2012
  • From the section Business
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Media captionJeremy Hunt: "I have behaved with absolute integrity and scrupulous objectivity

The emails from Fred Michel, News Corporation's director of public affairs, to James Murdoch are deeply embarrassing for the government.

They appear to be evidence that Jeremy Hunt, the culture secretary, wanted News Corp to succeed with its controversial bid for BSkyB and that he did not act with the impartiality he was supposed to show in his quasi judicial role in respect of media deals.

Email after email contains apparently confidential information about announcements Mr Hunt was planning to make about the bid.

And Mr Michel repeatedly suggested Mr Hunt was doing what he could to facilitate the bid.

However, Mr Michel was not talking to Mr Hunt directly, after the end of December, when Mr Hunt took formal responsibility for evaluating the bid from the business secretary, Vince Cable.

Instead he was maintaining the niceties, on Mr Hunt's instructions, by liaising instead with Mr Hunt's special adviser, Adam Smith.

Some of the text message exchanges between Mr Michel and Mr Smith have been published - and they corroborate much of what is in Mr Michel's emails.

Which is why some believe that if Mr Hunt is to survive, Mr Smith may have to take responsibility and quit.