Ian Burrell: A relationship with a minister that was too cosy for comfort

The emails present a strong case for taking plurality issues out of thehands of politicians

Share
Related Topics

Unlike that famous Fred from the Royal Bank of Scotland, Sir Fred Goodwin, the News Corp executive whose correspondence formed the basis of yesterday's dramatic session at the Leveson Inquiry will never have to answer to the name of Fred the Shred.

The rich cache of 163 pages of email correspondence from the Murdoch empire's public affairs chief, Fréd Michel, forms a compelling case for taking plurality issues out of the hands of politicians.

The emails suggested a worrying level of intimacy between a charming lobbyist and the office of Jeremy Hunt, who was deciding whether to allow the takeover of BSkyB. Mr Michel claimed to have had prior notice of a speech that the Culture Secretary was to make on the BSkyB bid and admitted such a leak was "absolutely illegal".

Mr Hunt's role in the inquiry was already controversial. Just as fears were raised that the Business Secretary Vince Cable was biased against News Corp, Mr Hunt – who described himself as a "cheerleader" for the Murdoch company on his website – is shown to be intimate.

The emails suggest an altogether different relationship to the unimpeachable one indicated by Mr Hunt at the time the bid was being scrutinised, when he suggested he was beyond the reach of lobbyists. "He has clearly been found to have been acting contrary to the quasi-judicial capacity that he was assuring everybody he was conducting himself in and I think that's pretty serious," Steven Barnett, professor of communications at the University of Westminster, said.

As for James Murdoch, his star has dropped from the sky. The man who brought down the imperial axe on the News of the World last year and appeared to be the presumed heir to the family business spent much of yesterday highlighting that he was anything but powerful. To the incredulity of Lord Justice Leveson, he even tried to dodge one question with the self-deprecating response: "I think that's above my pay grade."

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Solutions Consultant (financial services)

£50000 - £65000 per annum: Harrington Starr: SQL Solutions Consultant (financi...

Implementation Consultant - Business Analyst, SQL

£50000 - £70000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: A leading prov...

Application Support - Unix, Linux, Windows, Bash, Perl, Python

£55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: An established leader in the Trading Syste...

Senior IOS Developer

£40000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Sami Khedira of Germany runs past Oscar of Brazil with the ball during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Semi Final match between Brazil and Germany  

Germany’s demolition of Brazil shows just what Teutonic efficiency and foresight can achieve

Mark Steel
Will Lord Patten be able to bring the Vatican into the 20th century?  

Say a little prayer for Lord Patten — the Vatican works in mysterious ways

Peter Popham
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
10 best girls' summer dresses

Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

Westminster’s dark secret

Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

Naked censorship?

The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil