Jeremy Hunt faces three investigations over BSkyB bid

Beleaguered Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt is facing up to three separate investigations into his conduct over News Corp‘s BSkyB bid.

The under-fire minister yesterday rejected repeated calls for his resignation from Labour and insisted he had behaved with “scrupulous fairness” throughout the process.

Yesterday his special adviser Adam Smith quit after admitting his activities during the News Corp bid ‘went too far”. Emails released by News Corp on Tuesday appeared to show ‘back-channel’communications between Hunt’s office and News Corp throughout its attempts to buy the remaining shares in BSkyB that it did not already own.

The Financial Services Authority has confirmed it is looking into claims that Smith’s activities amounted to market abuse.

Hunt has also been told he will have to hand over copies of paperwork on the takeover and transcripts of his emails to Smith to the Leveson Inquiry.

And Labour has now called on Prime Minister David Cameron to launch an investigation into claims Hunt broke the Ministerial Code of Conduct given that is responsible for the conduct of his special adviser.

Hunt has denied claims the emails between Smith and News Corp public affairs executive Frederic Michel were evidence of secret communications and that he acted as a ‘cheerleader’for Rupert Murdoch.

“They did not influence my decision in any way,” he told MPs yesterday. “The volume and tone of these communications were clearly not appropriate in a quasi-judicial process and today Adam Smith has resigned as my special adviser.

He also said he asked the Leveson Inquiry to push forward the date for when he gives evidence, adding: “I am totally confident that when I present my evidence, the public will see that I conducted this process with scrupulous fairness throughout.”

Labour leader Milliband said there was a “shadow of sleaze” hanging over the Government following the latest revelations.

  • To contact the Press Gazette newsdesk call 020 7936 6433 or email pged@pressgazette.co.uk

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