The inestimably ghastly Jeremy *unt
Astonishing “shame we didn’t record him” admission
James Murdoch is being questioned by the Leveson Media Enquiry this morning GMT, but Newscorp Director of Public Affairs Frederic Michel is also turning into a central figure, the main context being in relation to Michel’s uncomfortably cosy relationship with the oleaginous Culture Secretary Jeremy *unt.
From the Leveson enquiry in the last hour:
QC Peter Jay says: “It’s pretty clear you were receiving information on the lines the UK government on the whole would be supportive of News Corp.”
James Murdoch: “I think Mr Hunt had said personally he didn’t see any issues … there’s no special information in there.”
Jay raises a conference call between James Murdoch, Michel and Vince Cable on 15 June 2010. Michel says in one email that the call went well and “we should have recorded him”. (!)
Michel says in another email that he had a note from Jeremy Hunt’s advisor, Adam Smith, that “the UK government would be supportive throughout the process (despite what the Standard is reporting this evening)”.
The general tenor throughout is that of a mendacious line being put out by the Cameron Government to suggest that all was rigorously above board – when it clearly wasn’t. Jay asked about a meeting between James M and David Cameron at The George in Mayfair, where James told Cameron that The Sun would support the Conservatives. “This must have been welcome news to Cameron, wasn’t it?” says Jay. “Seemed that way,” acknowledges James.
But an earlier bombshell then confirmed what 99.9% of viewers felt that afternoon last year when David Cameron refused 18 times in the House of Commons to give a straight answer to the obvious question about his Newscorp Christmas lunch with James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks: Did you discuss the Newscorp BSkyB bid?
James Murdoch now says yes, they did. His testimony:
“This [conversation] was on Dec 23, 2010, at a dinner hosted by Rebekah and Charlie Brooks and attended by a number of other people. It took place two days after responsibility for the matter had passed to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Jeremy Hunt, (from Vince Cable).”
In particular, Murdoch Jr admitted asking for ‘assurances’ that Hunt would be ‘more objective’ than Cable. The Prime Minister stood widely accused last year of breaking Parliament’s ministerial code of conduct by failing to avoid a possible conflict of interest in attending the Christmas dinner, and blocked an inquiry by the Cabinet Secretary which would surely have discovered what Leveson has been told today.
Cameron has repeatedly fended off questions about whether he and James Murdoch talked about BSkyB at the dinner, but in refusing to deny the conversation 18 times in the Commons he must be guilty of at least misleading MPs, and probably of contempt.
Mind you, that was in a more decent age.
I remind Sloggers what I predicted a long time ago about this sleazy cover-up: in the end, it will do for David Cameron’s Premiership.