James Murdoch today denied culture secretary Jeremy Hunt was a "cheerleader" for News Corp - yet the evidence says otherwise, reports Shamik Das.
James Murdoch today denied culture secretary Jeremy Hunt was a “cheerleader” for News Corp.
Asked by Robert Jay QC at the Leveson Inquiry if Hunt was a “huge ally” of News International, he replied “I wouldn’t think so”, rejecting suggestions he called on Hunt to “oil the wheels” of News Corp’s takeover bid for BSkyB.
He later said he thought it “unfair” when Jay referred to “your cheerleader Mr Hunt”.
“Rather than worry about Rupert Murdoch owning another TV channel, what we should recognise is that he has probably done more to create variety and choice in British TV than any other single person because of his huge investment in setting up Sky TV, which, at one point, was losing several million pounds a day.
“We would be the poorer and wouldn’t be saying that British TV is the envy of the world if it hadn’t been for him being prepared to take that commercial risk. We need to encourage that kind of investment.”
Cheerleading, gushing, fawning, call it what you like, but sceptical of the Murdochs Hunt was not.
• A slow motion death for critics of NewsCorp/BSkyB deal 30 Jun 2011
• Campaigners ignored as Murdoch gets go ahead 3 Mar 2011
• Murdoch and Ofcom – why ownership matters 7 Jan 2011
Also at the Leveson Inquiry today, James Murdoch revealed he had discussed the BSkyB takeover bid with David Cameron over Christmas dinner with Rebekah Brooks at her Chipping Norton mansion – just days after Murdochphile Hunt had been given sole power to decide on the bid, after Vince Cable had been stripped of the role.