Bryant: Govt 'could have broken law' over BSkyB bid

Labour MP Chris Bryant has suggested that members of the Government could have committed a ‘criminal offence’if Jeremy Hunt’s office handed confidential information to News Corp over its BSkyB bid.

Last month, Hunt’s special adviser Adam Smith quit over a cache emails from News Corp director of public affairs Frederic Michel were released giving the impression that Hunt was secretly backing the News Corp bid.

Shadow immigration minister Chris Bryant told the BBC’s Sunday Politics programme yesterday that Prime Minister David Cameron should ask his independent adviser on the ministerial code, Sir Alex Allan, to investigate the controversy.

Lord Justice Leveson has confirmed he will not rule on whether Hunt broke the ministerial code during his handling of the BSkyB bid.

Bryant said: ‘The point nobody can run away from in either Downing Street or Jeremy Hunt’s office is the fact that every element Fred Michel predicted the Secretary of State would say, he did say.

News International knew information about what the Secretary of State was going to say before he said it, and also before commercial operators did.

“That’s a criminal offence, a straight-forward criminal offence.”

A Department for Culture, Media and Sport spokesman said: “Jeremy Hunt will respond fully to all allegations on his conduct when he gives his evidence to the Leveson Inquiry in due course.

“He is confident that 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 has claimed in emails to be speaking to Jeremy Hunt, that was not the case.”

On 30 April, Cameron insisted he had seen no evidence that Hunt had breached the ministerial code of conduct.

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