Lord Justice Leveson has asked MPs not to interfere with his Inquiry, as he indicated he would take evidence from Adam Smith, culture secretary Jeremy Hunt’s special adviser, and News Corp PR chief Frederic Michel.
Leveson went through a lengthy reading of yesterday’s Hansard transcript, replying to the points of order raised in the House of Commons by Labour MPs who asked for Hunt to provide relevant material to the House before giving evidence to the Inquiry.
He responded firmly that this would “undermine the fairness of the procedure”, though he acknowledged he could not he could not stop Parliament from addressing such matters.
Smith resigned last month when it emerged in correspondence between Michel and Hunt’s office that News Corp was being given advance feedback of the government’s scrutiny of the BSkyB bid at a time when the media corporation was mounting a takeover bid of the satellite broadcaster. News Corp eventually abandoned the takeover bid in July 2011 in the wake of the phone hacking scandal.
The opposition has insisted that Hunt broke the ministerial code for failing to supervise Smith, a claim that Hunt, who has come under increasing fire for the liaisons between his office and News Corp, has denied.
Leveson stressed his determination to remain above party politics and that it was crucial to hear “every side of the story” before drawing conclusions. He repeated his stance that it was not up to him to adjudicate whether or not the House had been misled.
Hunt is also due to appear the Inquiry, which is currently examining relationships between the British press and politicians, before the end of the month.
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