Jeremy Hunt asks Leveson inquiry for the chance to explain himself

Emails released yesterday dispute the claim that Hunt was impartial in BSkyB bid.

New Statesman
Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt. Photo: Getty Images

Jeremy Hunt begged the Leveson inquiry to bring forward his appearance yesterday after the release of emails exposing his close relationship with James Murdoch throughout News Corporation's BSkyB bid.

In a statement released last night, the Culture Secretary said that he had written to Lord Justice Leveson asking for the chance to explain himself. He said: "I am very confident that when I present my evidence the public will see that I conducted this process with absolute objectivity and scrupulous fairness."

The statement came as key Labour Party politicians, including party leader Ed Miliband and deputy leader Harriet Harman, called for his resignation.

The emails between James Murdoch's lobbyist Frederic Michel and Hunt's special advisor, comprising of 163 pages, were handed over by News Corporation to the Leveson inquiry yesterday. They show that Hunt deliberately went against ministerial advice in speaking with Murdoch on the phone before acquiring ministerial responsibility for the deal. He also led News Corporation to believe their BSkyB bid would be successful, before the Milly Dowler hacking scandal dashed their hopes. 

It was Hunt's responsibility as Culture Secretary to ensure that his dealings with News Corporation were completely impartial.

After the questioning of James Murdoch at Leveson ended yesterday, Hunt met with David Cameron and the cabinet secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood to explain the emails. 

Hunt dismissed calls for his resignation, saying: "Now is not a time for kneejerk reactions."