Amol Rajan: After this morning, Leveson
has to ask Osborne to give evidence

QC reveals explosive new evidence of text messages

involving Hunt, Murdoch and Chancellor

Share
Related Topics

Jeremy Hunt began at 10.00 this morning confidently, wearing his bright and breezy demeanour in a manner that suggested he wasn't nervous at all. At around 10.45, his body language changed suddenly, as Robert Jay QC revealed explosive new evidence: text messages between Hunt and James Murdoch, and between Hunt and George Osborne.

The first show a new degree of intimacy between Hunt and News Corporation; the latter make it seem absurd that George Osborne won't be giving evidence to this Inquiry.

We heard that, after Vince Cable's comments about "declaring war on Rupert Murdoch" were revealed, Hunt texted George Osborne at 16.08 on the same day saying "seriously worried we are going to screw this up". The clear implication of that is a strong bias towards News Corporation shared between Hunt and Osborne. Hunt said repeatedly this morning that he was "sympathetic to" but not "supportive of" the bid; these texts show that distinction to be tenuous at best.

George Osborne's response by text - "I hope you like the solution" - further suggests bias towards News Corp at the top of government, which goes in the opposite direction to Vince Cable's obvious bias.

Hunt then sent the following text message to James Murdoch at 16.58: "Great and congrats on Brussels. Just Ofcom to go." Hunt has just told the Inquiry that he had not, when that text was sent, been appointed to oversee the bid - though he did have an 'inkling', which George Osborne's text presumably provided him with.

That text from Hunt to James Murdoch may cost the former his job. It is the strongest evidence yet made public of Hunt's bias towards News Corp, and suggests a desire to curry favour with the most senior figures there.

Hunt has said repeatedly this morning that his very strong personal bias in favour of News Corp didn't disqualify him from quasi-judicial impartiality, because he had already made his views public. This is preposterous, as the Evening Standard's Jenni Russell has tweeted.

The other new and intriguing development this morning is how the Chancellor has been dragged in. We knew that he was responsible for the hiring of Andy Coulson. Now he is exposed as playing a key role in orchestrating Hunt's appointment to oversee the BSkyB bid - at a time when he knew very clearly that Hunt was strongly in favour of the bid.

Given this revelation, how can Lord Leveson fail to call the Chancellor to give evidence?

Follow Amol on Twitter: @amolrajan

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Associate Recrutiment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

PMLD Teacher

Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letter from the Political Editor: Cameron's unexpected tax pledges give the Tories home advantage

Andrew Grice
President Barack Obama walks with U.S. Secret Service agents to Air Force One at Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, Calif., May 8, 2014.  

Obama's Secret Service has become sloppy with its delusions of Hollywood grandeur

David Usborne
Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence