Evidence on 24 April at the Leveson Inquiry has shown Tory Culture Minister Jeremy Hunt acting almost as a Murdoch employee.
This, while he was supposedly in charge of impartial government scrutiny of the Murdoch empire’s bid to take full ownership of BSkyB, and whether it was admissible under the laws about media ownership.
Labour has called for Hunt to resign; the Tory Daily Telegraph tips him as “the next minister to go”, ahead now of Health Minister Andrew Lansley.
Emails produced in evidence showed a Murdoch aide reporting that he had information, “although absolutely illegal”, on what Hunt would tell Parliament the next day; that Hunt wanted the Murdoch aide to work with civil servants on an official statement on the bid; and that Hunt and Murdoch’s people had a common “plan” which would lead to “game over for the opposition”.
David Cameron put Hunt in charge of the scrutiny in December 2010, taking the job away from Lib-Dem minister Vince Cable, who was reported to be hostile to Murdoch.
James Murdoch, son of Rupert Murdoch and chair until November 2011 of the holding company for the Murdoch papers in Britain, could excuse the emails only by saying that he was “not sure they were accurate”.
In December 2011, also at the Inquiry, he dealt with evidence of an email to him which had detailed the phone-hacking which he said he had been unaware of by claiming that he hadn’t read the email — though he had replied to it!
The Murdoch empire eventually dropped its BSkyB bid, because in the meantime the News of the World phone-hacking scandal had exploded. It continues to explode.
Much has come out about close links between the Murdochs and top Tories, including David Cameron. News International has made out-of-court payments to settle 50 claims of phone-hacking so far; 46 new ones are underway; another 200 in the months ahead; and the Metropolitan Police now estimates there may be 4,791 victims. The Met itself has been tainted by evidence of being in cahoots with Murdoch.
Billionaires like the Murdochs are not fit people to control public information.
The labour movement should campaign to remove Cameron and Hunt from office, and to take the assets of the big media chains into public ownership, allocating the resources democratically with guarantees of access and right of reply for minorities.