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Labour demands emails from Hunt
Labour have demanded the publication of emails and text messages between Jeremy Hunt and his special adviser Adam Smith, as pressure continued on the embattled Culture Secretary over his handling of News Corporation's takeover bid for BSkyB.
Shadow culture secretary Harriet Harman said it was not "credible" that Mr Hunt was unaware of the nature of Mr Smith's contacts with News Corp lobbyist Frederic Michel, exposed in an explosive cache of emails published by the Leveson Inquiry into media standards.
But Downing Street said that Prime Minister David Cameron would not ask his independent adviser Sir Alex Allan to launch an inquiry into whether Mr Hunt breached the ministerial code of conduct, as Ms Harman has demanded.
Giving evidence to the Leveson Inquiry, News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch denied that he regarded Mr Hunt as an ally in his bid to gain control of the 61% of BSkyB shares which his company did not already own.
But he said he expected Mr Hunt to be a "fairer" judge of the bid than Business Secretary Vince Cable, who was stripped of the role in 2010 after being secretly recorded saying he had "declared war" on the News Corp boss.
"Did I assume that Mr Hunt was on our side? No," Mr Murdoch told the inquiry. "I assumed that any responsible minister would be responsible and deal with it in a completely unbiased way. I thought that Dr Cable was an exception."
Mr Murdoch denied that Mr Hunt had given the BSkyB bid an easy ride, telling the Inquiry: "We were made to make very big concessions, for reasons which I can't understand."
Labour also raised questions about Mr Hunt's suggestion that the top civil servant at his Department for Culture, Media and Sport, permanent secretary Jonathan Stephens, authorised Mr Smith to act as "point man" with News Corp.
Mr Stephens refused to answer questions on the affair when he appeared before the Commons Public Accounts Committee, but the DCMS said in a statement that he was "aware that Adam Smith was amongst a small number of individuals in the department who were in contact with News Corp and was content with that arrangement. As Adam Smith's statement makes clear, the content and extent of his contact was done without authorisation, and were contrary to the clear requirements set out by Jeremy Hunt and the permanent secretary."
Ms Harman said: "Yesterday Jeremy Hunt told the House that he did not know what his special adviser was doing. This is scarcely credible, particularly as it was in respect of such an important and controversial matter. But Jeremy Hunt can clarify this and put it beyond doubt by publishing the emails and texts between him and his special adviser, and I have today written to Mr Hunt challenging him to do so."