Leveson inquiry: government corruption and the dark heart of this strange affair -
April 24, 2012
"Now we come to the dark heart of this strange affair. Critics of the Murdochs have often suspected that they have exploited their position as newspaper owners to win secret favours from governments – and the Murdochs and the politicians alike have denied it. Now, for the first time, courtesy of the volatile chain-reaction of the phone-hacking scandal, we have compelling evidence. In 163 pages of paperwork published by the Leveson inquiry, we can see the dialogue between James Murdoch's camp and the office of Jeremy Hunt, the secretary of state for media, who held in his hands the outcome of the biggest deal in the history of the Murdochs' News Corporation, the £8bn takeover of BSkyB. According to Tuesday's evidence, Murdoch and his lobbyist, Fred Michel, worked their way through every crack in the walls of Whitehall in search of influence and, in Hunt's office, they found friends who would supply them with information, advice and support, even as Hunt claimed to the outside world that he was being impartial and even-handed. The evidence is likely to be disputed. These are merely Michel's versions of what was said, so they are hearsay. Furthermore, Michel has told the inquiry that his messages that claimed to report conversations with Hunt were in fact based on talking to Hunt's officials, which would mean that they are also secondhand. But, if the evidence stands up, we are looking at a story of secret and improper collusion of precisely the kind that Murdoch's critics suspected. At a time when Hunt was required to act in the legal role of a judge overseeing Ofcom's inquiry into the bid, this evidence suggests he was secretly supplying News Corp with information about his confidential dealings with Ofcom, advising them on how to pick holes in Ofcom's arguments, allowing their adviser to help him prepare a public statement, offering to "share the political heat" with them, and repeatedly pledging his support for their position. If proved, this pushes Hunt's...
My brain is failing me these days, but did he secure his 5 year fixed term policy? -
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