News Corp and Hunt’s office: in numbers

Leveson Inquiry hears that 1000 text messages were exchanged.

Frederic Michel has just given evidence to the Leveson Inquiry. Michel, who is News Corporation’s head of public affairs in Europe, was mainly asked about his cosy relationship with Jeremy Hunt’s office, in particular his adviser Adam Smith. When details of emails between Michel and Smith during the News Corp’s proposed takeover of BSkyB were published by the company earlier this month, Smith was forced to fall on his sword and resign. Hunt, who was supposed to be fulfilling a quasi-judicial role on the bid, has maintained that he acted properly.

Hunt would certainly like us to believe that Michel exaggerated his dealings with the Department for Media, Culture and Sport (DCMS). Asked by Robert Jay QC if this was the case, Michel replied: “No, I don’t agree with this. I didn’t need to [exaggerate]”.

This is certainly borne out by the numbers, which are the key fact to come out of this appearance. They show the the sheer scale of contact between Smith and Michel.

According to Jay, between November 2011 and July 2011, there were:

Over 1000 text messages exchanged (that was 799 from Michel to the DCMS – with around 90 per cent of those going to Smith – and 257 from Smith to Michel).

191 phone calls between Michel and the department

158 emails from Michel

So News Corp were certainly getting a whole lot of listening time. 1000 texts over nine months equals around three text messages a day, which is more than many of us exchange with close friends, let alone colleagues. When Smith resigned, he said that he had acted inappropriately and without Hunt’s permission. As Michel said in today’s evidence, special advisers always tend to represent the views of their boss, the secretary of state. Smith, up this afternoon, has some serious questions to answer about how much Hunt actually knew.
 

Jeremy Hunt, the Culture Secretary. Photograph: Getty Images

Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for the New Statesman.

@Simon_Cullen via Twitter
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All 27 things wrong with today’s Daily Mail front cover

Where do I even start?

Hello. Have you seen today’s Daily Mail cover? It is wrong. Very wrong. So wrong that if you have seen today’s Daily Mail cover, you no doubt immediately turned to the person nearest to you to ask: “Have you seen today’s Daily Mail cover? It is wrong.”

But just how wrong is the wrong Mail cover? Let me count the ways.

  1. Why does it say “web” and not “the web”?
  2. Perhaps they were looking on a spider’s web and to be honest that makes more sense because
  3. How does it take TWO MINUTES to use a search engine to find out that cars can kill people?
  4. Are the Mail team like your Year 8 Geography teacher, stuck in an infinite loop of typing G o o g l e . c o m into the Google search bar, the search bar that they could’ve just used to search for the thing they want?
  5. And then when they finally typed G o o g l e . c o m, did they laboriously fill in their search term and drag the cursor to click “Search” instead of just pressing Enter?
  6. The Daily Mail just won Newspaper of the Year at the Press Awards
  7. Are the Daily Mail – Newspaper of the Year – saying that Google should be banned?
  8. If so, do they think we should ban libraries, primary education, and the written word?
  9. Sadly, we know the answer to this
  10. Google – the greatest source of information in the history of human civilisation – is not a friend to terrorists; it is a friend to teachers, doctors, students, journalists, and teenage girls who aren’t quite sure how to put a tampon in for the first time
  11. Upon first look, this cover seemed so obviously, very clearly fake
  12. Yet it’s not fake
  13. It’s real
  14. More than Google, the Mail are aiding terrorists by pointing out how to find “manuals” online
  15. While subsets of Google (most notably AdSense) can be legitimately criticised for profiting from terrorism, the Mail is specifically going at Google dot com
  16. Again, do they want to ban Google dot com?
  17. Do they want to ban cars?
  18. Do they want to ban search results about cars?
  19. Because if so, where will that one guy from primary school get his latest profile picture from?
  20. Are they suggesting we use Bing?
  21. Why are they, once again, focusing on the perpetrator instead of the victims?
  22. The Mail is 65p
  23. It is hard to believe that there is a single person alive, Mail reader or not, that can agree with this headline
  24. Three people wrote this article
  25. Three people took two minutes to find out cars can drive into people
  26. Trees had to die for this to be printed
  27. It is the front cover of the Mail

Amelia Tait is a technology and digital culture writer at the New Statesman.