Senior Labour MP Chris Bryant accused Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s office of committing “a criminal offence” if it passed information to News International relating to its bid to control BSkyB.
Frontbencher Mr Bryant claimed that News International had information about what Mr Hunt was going to say about BSkyB before he said it and also before commercial operators did.
“That’s a criminal offence, a straight-forward criminal offence,” the Labour MP for Rhondda said.
Labour has called for Mr Hunt to be sacked in the wake of the publication by the Leveson Inquiry of emails between News International lobbyist Fred Michel and Mr Hunt’s special adviser Adam Smith, who quit his post after the revelations last month.
The email has led to claims he colluded with Rupert Murdoch’s media empire to prevent a public inquiry into phone hacking, with Mr Michel stating that the Culture Secretary wanted the firm to “guide his and Number 10’s positioning” on the scandal.
Labour leader Ed Miliband said: “One of the reasons so many people hate politics so much right now is that they think politicians stand up for the wrong people, not the right people.
“This is a clear example of that — Jeremy Hunt was standing up for Rupert Murdoch, not for the public interest.”
A Department for Culture, Media and Sport spokesman said: “Jeremy Hunt will respond fully to all allegations on his conduct when he gives his evidence to the Leveson Inquiry in due course.
“It has already been made clear that when Fred Michel has claimed in emails to be speaking to Jeremy Hunt, that was not the case.”
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