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By a Newsnet reporter
 
UK Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt is today facing calls to resign after the Leveson inquiry heard evidence that he had sought advice from News Corp Executives over the phone hacking scandal.
 
An email, released to the inquiry by former News Internationa Executive Rebekah Brooks, also revealed that News Corp had received an “extremely helpful” tip off regarding a statement the Tory Minister was due to give to the House of Commons.

The email from News Corporation lobbyist Frédéric Michel was sent at 4.29pm on June 27 last year, and said: “JH is now starting to look into phone-hacking/practices more thoroughly and has asked me to advise him privately in the coming weeks and guide his and No.10’s positioning.”

If true, the email will cause attention to be turned to Prime Minister David Cameron and suspicion that his Government’s response to the phone hacking scandal was being influenced by News Corp.

The inquiry also heard how Brooks discussed phone hacking with David Cameron in 2010 after the PM had sought an update, "I think it had been on the news that day, and I think I explained the story behind the news. No secret information, no privileged information, just a general update," Brooks said.

However, far more serious for Mr Hunt is Brooks’ claim to have been told of a planned statement to Parliament days before the Minister actually gave it.  The email to Ms Brooks informed the former News International executive that the Minister would make a statement about the company's proposed acquisition of BSkyB, and that phone hacking was not expected to be seen as a barrier.

In the same email to Mrs Brooks, Mr Michel states: “Hunt will be making references to phone-hacking in his statement on Rubicon [News Corp’s codename for the BSkyB bid] this week.

“He will be repeating the same narrative as the one he gave in Parliament a few weeks ago.

“This is based on his belief that the police is (sic) pursuing things thoroughly and phone-hacking has nothing to do with the media plurality issue.

“It’s extremely helpful.”

Brooks is then told that the statement will be made that Wednesday.

The claim regarding the so called “extremely helpful” tip off appeared to have been borne out when in Hunt's statement to parliament on Wednesday 30 June, essentially approving News Corp's bid for Sky, he told MPs that "while the phone-hacking allegations are very serious they were not material to my consideration".

In a statement yesterday a culture department spokesperson said: "Jeremy Hunt will respond to this when he gives his evidence to the Leveson inquiry in due course. He is confident his evidence will vindicate the position that he has behaved with integrity on every issue."

In her evidence Brooks also spoke of dining with Chancellor George Osborne and discussing the News Corp bid.  There is speculation that Osborne may now be called to give evidence to the inquiry.

Ms Brooks also revealed that she had dinner with David Cameron on 23rd December 2010 where they discussed the BskyB bid.  She also attended another previously undisclosed dinner party days later on Boxing Day with the PM and his wife.  That year she met with the Tory PM on at least five occasions.

Other Prime Ministers who featured in Ms Brooks evidence included former PMs Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.  Ms Brooks admitted that Mr Blair had been a “constant presence” in the former News International executive’s life, growing throughout his period as Prime Minister and that they had met three times between 2003 and 2007 for private dinners.

She also reveled that the former Labour PM had sent her a message of condolence when she was forced to resign from News International last year.

Ms Brooks also spoke of an “extraordinarily aggressive conversation” she had with Gordon Brown after the Sun newspaper withdrew its support for Labour in 2009.  She claimed that the former Labour PM expressed concern that the newspaper was planning further attacks on him, “I assured him that it wasn’t,” she said.

Ms Brooks also challenged claims by Gordon Brown and his wife Sarah that they had not given permission for the Sun newspaper to cover the story revealing their son had cystic fibrosis, insisting she would not have run the story without their consent.

"There are many examples [of] very tragic situations in people's lives where people have asked me not to run the story and I haven't, and I wouldn't have done – they gave me permission to run it. It is the only way we would have put that in the public domain," said Brooks.

Mrs Brooks said that after the story in 2006, she saw Gordon Brown and his wife regularly and had good relations with them. They threw a birthday party for her, and attended her wedding, she told the inquiry.  She described herself as a friend of Mrs Brown, whom she called an “amazing lady”.

It was only following The Sun’s change of allegiance that Gordon Brown suggested he was unhappy about the cystic fibrosis story, she said. “The first time I’d heard that he had a concern of that nature was when he gave an interview to the BBC in 2011,” she said and claimed Mr Brown had sought to damage the Sun’s reputation for political reasons.

Comments  

 
# ubinworryinmasheep 2012-05-12 08:54
This Frédéric Michel seems to have sent a few emails that may be genuine but also can look like he is trying to 'big up' his capabilities. Unless there's emails from Jeremy Hunt or one of his advisors I'd not believe it. Anyone can send an email suggesting things they are not necessarily true. You would think there would be hard evidence somewhere out there..letters,emails, voice recordings ..its Newscorp after all.
 
 
# Briggs 2012-05-12 09:09
I wonder if as much fuss will be made in the Scottish MSM as was made a few weeks ago over Aberdein's supposed contacts with his opposite number in Hunt's coterie? Murky territory.

Somehow I doubt it.
 
 
# derek 2012-05-12 21:23
He also quoted a Hunt parliament speech word for word before Hunt delivered the speech in parliament. Either way Hunt has to go.
 
 
# Wee-Scamp 2012-05-12 09:16
 
 
# doctor_zaius 2012-05-12 09:40
"Mrs Lamont will use her speech in Edinburgh to argue the SNP’s “free education” promise is symptomatic of a party that governs by slogan instead of adopting properly worked through policies ... Despite Labour adopting the same policy in last year’s Holyrood electiion ... "

Is Labours evidence based approach to adopt popular policies in contradiction to their own stated objections and then revert to 'plan A' and hope Noone notices, attacking the "Executive" all the while? We should demand an inquiry!
 
 
# pmcrek 2012-05-12 12:57
heh, is there any more hollow sounding slogan than, "Keep the tories out!", Oh except when we form council administrations with them...
 
 
# .Scot 2012-05-12 10:00
OMG! Lamont has had her hair cut to better morph into the Scottish Tory leader? (FAIL!)

Back on topic:
The numerous ministers and government secretaries resigning to stop police media and public investigations into their corrupt financial affairs has reached a proportion that matches the worst period of Unionist sleaze.

The attacks on the SNP have been silly in the extreme as the undemocratic UK government (ruling only by decree of the dynastic Royals) has relaunched this week again in another attempt by Unionism to paint a phony picture of competence in the minds of the British people. A construct which is left without access to media that is independent of the Home Office Broadcasting licence control and it's Office of Communications which gagged Iran's PressTV on a false accusation of pressurising a reporter (soon to be tested in court).

Yet the UK permits SKY TV (which freely admits "continually illegally hacking emails to make programmes") to broadcast the British Union line mimicking the BBC news.

presstv.ir/.../3510218.html The British news you can't see on Sky or BBC.
 
 
# tartanfever 2012-05-12 18:26
Absolutely ridiculous. So her argument is that universities have to take in more fee paying students to help with funding, and that has lead to a drop in 761 places being taken by Scottish students. (They don't say how many students from Scotland have actually applied to university in Scotland, if they did , it would put the 761 into context and probably show it to be what it is, a small percentage.)

I wonder how much that figure would drop if Scottish students were then charged £9k a year. I think you would see the number of applications fall by 50%.

This woman is actually quite dangerous, and even more dangerous is an ignorant press giving her free reign and not question her appropriately.

Time for the gloves to come off.
 
 
# RTP 2012-05-12 09:46
It is all bad news we seem to get so how about a few light hearted moments,was sent this from my son in Australia,hope no one takes offense I thought it great.
Turn your speakers on.

www.youtube.com/.../
 
 
# Wee-Scamp 2012-05-12 10:57
Brilliant.... Never heard that before. Thanks for sharing.
 
 
# Gaavster 2012-05-12 10:58
Thanks RTP ;o)
 
 
# mudfries 2012-05-12 09:58
What an absolute cheek the Unionist partys and their allies at the BBC in Scotland had attacking the first minister and the SNP with their "your too close to Murdoch and news International" rubbish in the last couple of weeks! their hypocrisy is staggering.
 
 
# xyz 2012-05-12 10:07
OT ... must read: dailykos.com/.../...
 
 
# Dundonian West 2012-05-12 12:56
"Cameron is planning to cut the Scottish budget even further."
365 Comments!!
 
 
# xyz 2012-05-12 10:16
This inquiry is just standard Westminster skulduggery .. ..

Before the locals elections it was used to attack our first minister .. despite the far greater degree of cosy connections between News Corp and Westminster politicians.

Now the UK government have engineered some kind of special status at the inquiry so that they can get the questions ahead of their attendance at the inquiry....

No such arrangement has been made by our First Minster.

I'm sure he's fit for them, but of course they will be gunning for him and the press will be all over it trying to create negative story.
 
 
# balgayboy 2012-05-12 11:51
Quoting xyz:
This inquiry is just standard Westminster skulduggery .. ..

Before the locals elections it was used to attack our first minister .. despite the far greater degree of cosy connections between News Corp and Westminster politicians.

Now the UK government have engineered some kind of special status at the inquiry so that they can get the questions ahead of their attendance at the inquiry....

No such arrangement has been made by our First Minster.

I'm sure he's fit for them, but of course they will be gunning for him and the press will be all over it trying to create negative story.

You bet they will be gunning for him. It's their prime opportunity for the establishment and their subservient MSM to have another kick at AS and the SNP to portray them as real reason for the Leveson Inquiry. Watch this space. It will not work though. Roll on 2014
 
 
# tilly 2012-05-12 12:47
The Leveson inquiry a.k.a. 'You can't lie to a liar, baby.'
 
 
# tartanfever 2012-05-12 18:30
Can't wait for FMQ's on Thursday, I'm sure AS may ask Ruthie about the 'XXX' 'lots of love' text messages from Cameron to Brooks.

Also Blair's text message of commiseration to Rebekah after leaving News International should be an interesting come back to Lamont.
 

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