Hunt 'secretly backed BSkyB bid'

British Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt secretly backed News Corporation’s bid to take over BSkyB and leaked inside information to the media giant, the Leveson Inquiry heard today.

British Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt secretly backed News Corporation’s bid to take over BSkyB and leaked inside information to the media giant, the Leveson Inquiry heard today.

News Corp’s director of public affairs, Frederic Michel, sent a series of emails to James Murdoch and other executives revealing Mr Hunt’s thoughts about the progress of the controversial takeover plans.

In one message Mr Michel detailed what the Culture Secretary would say to Parliament the next day, noting that it was “absolutely illegal” for him to obtain the information.

Another email, dating from January last year, reported Mr Hunt’s belief that it would be “game over” for opponents of the BSkyB takeover once plans to spin off Sky News into a separately listed company were publicly announced.

“He said we would get there at the end, and he shared our objectives,” Mr Michel noted.

The revelations led to a flurry of wagers that Mr Hunt would leave the Cabinet, and bookmakers William Hill, Ladbrokes and Paddy Power all suspended betting on him resigning.

Deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman called for Hunt to resign, claiming his conduct had fallen"woefully short'' of the standard expected of him.

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