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UK Olympics Minister Under Fire

Latest World News > Olympics Minister Jeremy Hunt was under renewed pressure Saturday following the revelation at Britain’s press ethics inquiry of a further email from a top Murdoch aide.

 UK Olympics Minister Under Fire

In a potentially damaging development, the email, revealed at the Leveson Inquiry, left Hunt facing fresh calls to resign, less than three months away from the start of the London 2012 Games.


The email was from Frederic Michel, a lobbyist for Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation media empire, to Rebekah Brooks, who quit as chief executive of Murdoch’s British newspaper wing News International last July.


Brooks gave her eagerly-awaited testimony to the inquiry on Friday, in which she described the closeness of her relationship with Prime Minister David Cameron.


He signed text messages to her “lots of love”, privately discussed the News of the World scandal with her, and commiserated her after she stepped down as the phone-hacking affair at the News International weekly tabloid exploded.


But despite such details, newspapers turned the spotlight once again on Hunt, whose adviser resigned last month after admitting that he had gone beyond his remit in his dealings with Michel, in emails that emerged when Murdoch’s son James testified to the inquiry.


Michel’s message to Brooks, revealed Friday, said Hunt had asked for private advice to “guide his and No. 10’s positioning” about whether the hacking scandal would affect News Corp.’s bid to take full control of British satellite broadcaster BSkyB.


Hunt has rejected calls to quit and says that when he is mentioned in Michel’s emails the lobbyist is referring to aides in his Department for Culture, Media and Sport ministry, and not to him.


Brooks was arrested two days after her resignation over allegations of phone-hacking and bribing public officials. She and her husband were also arrested in March on suspicion of perverting the course of justice.


As the inquiry probed the extent of the ties between Murdoch and 10 Downing Street, Brooks said she used to exchange text messages around once a week with Cameron, rising to twice a week in the run-up to the 2010 general election. (AFP)

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