Jeremy Hunt to hand over Sky bid correspondence
Published Apr 27 2012, 10:17 BST | By Andrew Laughlin Jeremy Hunt
has today said that he will hand over all correspondence with his special adviser Adam Smith over Rupert Murdoch's Sky takeover bid.
The culture secretary told BBC News
that the emails and texts would "vindicate" his claim that he acted with "total integrity" during the merger review process.
But several Liberal Democrats have called for a specific inquiry into whether Hunt breached the ministerial code of conduct.
Smith resigned on Wednesday
after admitting that he went "too far" in contact with a News Corp lobbyist during the the firm's bid to take full control of Sky during 2010 and 2011.
However, he said that he had acted without the knowledge of the secretary of state, and insisted that Hunt acted with "scrupulous fairness" during the bid review.
After resisting calls to resign over the controversy
, Hunt said today: "I will be handing over all my private texts and emails to my special adviser to the Leveson inquiry and I am confident they will vindicate that I handled the BSkyB merger process with total propriety."
The culture secretary has faced growing pressure to stand down since the Leveson Inquiry published more than 160 pages of emails between News Corp's European public affairs director, Frédéric Michel, and his boss James Murdoch.
The correspondence appeared to suggest extensive contact between Hunt's office and News Corp during the firm's £8bn bid to acquire the 60.9% of Sky it did not already own. This contact continued after Hunt took on a "quasi judicial" role in deciding on the takeover.
Last night, Liberal Democrat deputy leader Simon Hughes said on BBC One's Question Time
that he could not understand why the prime minister had not referred the situation for review under the ministerial code of conduct.
Downing Street has given no indication whether this will happen.
An online protest petition on the Avaaz website
has attracted almost 50,000 signatures, calling on Cameron to "remove Jeremy Hunt from office immediately" over his alleged "collusion with the Murdochs over the BSkyB deal [which] has brought the government into disrepute".