Leveson: Who's said what about the BSkyB bid?

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Chancellor George Osborne have defended the government's handling of News Corp's attempt to take over broadcaster BSkyB.

Mr Hunt has been accused of having too close a relationship with News Corp, but the culture secretary told the Leveson Inquiry into media ethics he was not a "cheerleader" for Rupert Murdoch's company and his aim was to be "absolutely proper" about how he approached the bid. Mr Osborne said it was "nonsense" to believe there was a conspiracy.

Explore the table below to find out what key figures in government and at News Corp have told the inquiry about the handling of the abandoned takeover.

Key players and their evidence

Politicians and staff
Name Role/connection to BSkyB bid Position on handling of takeover

Source: Leveson Inquiry

Jeremy Hunt

Jeremy Hunt

Culture secretary with responsibility for overseeing bid

  • Referring to a congratulatory text message he sent to News Corp executive James Murdoch, he said he would not have sent the "Great news on Brussels" text had he known he would have been given responsibility for the bid the same day
  • Told the inquiry he didn't think his special adviser communicated any of his [Mr Hunt's] private views to News Corp. But he said he was surprised by the level of communication from News Corp lobbyist Frederic Michel. "We didn't predict the barrage of contact from Mr Michel," he said
Adam Smith

Adam Smith

Jeremy Hunt's former special adviser who quit his job after admitting that he thought emails to and from News Corp had gone too far

  • Said he would use his "judgement on what to say and what not to say", but admitted he regretted some of his texts
Vince Cable

Vince Cable

Business secretary, stripped of responsibility for overseeing bid when anti-Murdoch views made public

  • Said "veiled threats" were made against the Liberal Democrats when he was assessing the BSkyB bid and was warned the party would be "done over" in the firm's newspapers if he ruled against its takeover attempt
  • "I took those things seriously," he told the inquiry. "I was very concerned. I had myself tried to deal with the process entirely properly and impartially and I discovered that this was happening in the background"
George Osborne

George Osborne

Chancellor at the time of the bid

  • Told the inquiry it would be "complete nonsense" to believe there was a "vast conspiracy" to hand control of BSkyB to Rupert Murdoch. He also dismissed suggestions of a conspiracy around Vince Cable being stripped of responsibility for overseeing the takeover attempt
  • He described News Corp's bid as a "political inconvenience" and said he had not known at the time what Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt's or PM David Cameron's views were on it.

News Corp employees

Name

Role

Position on handling of takeover

Rupert Murdoch

Rupert Murdoch

Head of News Corp, part-owner of BSkyB

  • Told the inquiry he thought his bid to take over BSkyB would have had a "fairer" hearing under Jeremy Hunt, but added that he did not believe he had ever met Mr Hunt and that he "certainly didn't discuss" the bid with him
  • He also said he was "surprised" by how long email contact between his executive Frederic Michel and the government went on during the bid. However, he added that Mr Michel had done nothing wrong
James Murdoch

James Murdoch

Former BSkyB chairman

  • Asked whether communication with Mr Hunt via Frederic Michel was a way of avoiding the appearance of inappropriate informal contact over the bid, he said such communication was "acceptable and part of the process"
  • In response to a question on whether he thought Mr Hunt had fulfilled his quasi-judicial role, Mr Murdoch replied: "I can't say he didn't"
Rebekah Brooks

Rebekah Brooks

Former chief executive of News International

Frederic Michel

Frederic Michel

News Corp lobbyist

  • Told the inquiry he did not have "any direct conversation" with Jeremy Hunt relating to the BSkyB bid beyond his attendance at two formal meetings
  • On his dealings with Mr Hunt's office, he said: "I was never of the opinion that it was inappropriate to at least try to put the arguments to or make representations to these officers."

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