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Hunt back in spotlight over BSkyB
Jeremy Hunt faces fresh questions amid claims that he wanted News Corporation to "guide his and No 10's positioning" on phone hacking.
A newly disclosed email from News Corporation's public affairs executive Fred Michel also boasts of a tip-off about an "extremely helpful" statement the Culture Secretary was making to Parliament on the BSkyB bid.
The allegations surfaced in material disclosed to the Leveson Inquiry by former News International boss Rebekah Brooks.
A message from Mr Michel to Mrs Brooks, dated June 27 2011, gave an apparent preview of what Mr Hunt would say about the BSkyB bid later that week.
It said: "He will be repeating the same narrative as the one he gave in Parliament few weeks ago. This is based on his belief that the police is pursing things thoroughly and phone hacking has nothing to do with the media plurality issues. It's extremely helpful."
The email stated Mr Hunt wanted to "prevent a public inquiry", instead suggesting Parliament's Joint Committee on Privacy and Injunctions should carry out a wider investigation.
"For this the committee will need to come up a strong report in the autumn and put enough pressure on the PCC (Press Complaints Commission) to strength itself and take recommendations forward," Mr Michel wrote. "JH is now starting to looking to 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..."
A month later reports emerged that Milly Dowler's mobile phone had been accessed, causing a public outcry and leading David Cameron to launch the Leveson Inquiry.
A spokeswoman for Mr Hunt 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. It has already been made clear that when Fred Michel claims to be speaking to Jeremy Hunt in emails, he is in fact referring to Adam Smith."
Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman said: "People will be disgusted at the prospect of Jeremy Hunt and Number 10 colluding with News Corporation to avoid a public inquiry into phone hacking. Jeremy Hunt was not on the side of victims and their families. Instead, he wanted it swept under the carpet because he was straining every sinew to support News Corporation's bid for BSkyB."