Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Jeremy Hunt admitted to 3 meetings with NewsCorp/BSkyB but 8 actually took place.

My own research published today on Jeremy Hunt is below, but to be frank a far more explosive piece of Hunt's financial affairs in 2004-2005 can be read on John Ward's site (here). If you only have time to read one piece, I suggest you make it his. Failing that, please see my piece below.

Jeremy Hunt's activities as Secretary for Culture, Media and Sport are quite fascinating. His behaviour as a Cabinet Minister in the first month of the first Tory government for 13 years will astound you. he is obliged to list a) the gifts/hospitality he receives b) the meetings he conducted with outside parties. Today, I have gone through his meetings and hospitality received and the results are revealing.

Jeremy Hunt's meetings with NewsCorp were the subject of a Freedom of Information request in November 2010. In that response Hunt's department withheld details of any meetings Hunt had with Rupert Murdoch, and mentioned explicitly just one meeting with James Murdoch from May to 29 November 2010. You can read that FOI response (here) where Hunt's department admitted to 3 meetings with NewsCorp/B-Sky-B & the Murdochs and compare it to the actual 8 (eight) meetings Hunt had with NewsCorp/B-Sky-B & the Murdochs below during the dates mentioned.

Within a week of taking up his ministerial brief Jeremy Hunt attended a News International dinner where he met Rupert Murdoch (May 2010 see here). Within a month of assuming his role as Cabinet Minister,Jeremy Hunt held a more private meeting with James Murdoch (see here). The contents of the conversation are recorded as "general discussion" but be under no allusion, for the only item that could have been on the agenda was the furtherance of News Corp's interests. The very next month, July, Jeremy Hunt met Jeremy Darroch of B-Sky-B and once again listed the topic of discussion as a "general catch up" (here). In August, Jeremy Hunt was at it once again. This time he met Rupert Murdoch, this time for drinks at an evening reception (here). In October, Hunt once again teamed up with Rupert Murdoch and his News Corp staff for dinner and drinks (here).  He also met News International staff twice during the Tory Party conference (here). You probably at this point will not be surprised to know that these types of meetings continued. In November, Jeremy Hunt met B-Sky-B's James Darroch again and once more his the details of the meeting were listed as a general discussion (here).

One would think that these types of meetings with News Corp/News International executives would have ceased once Jeremy Hunt assumed responsibility for his Quasi-Judicial role in the B-sky-B and News Corp merger, but you would be wrong. In many respects, the number of meetings actually intensified. Hunt met James Murdoch twice in the month of January 2011 (here). Officially, this time Hunt was able to furnish details of the meetings which he said were to outline the process for the proposed merger. Whether or not minutes for those meetings were taken, I cannot say.

Readers might also be disheartened to know that Jeremy Hunt held a meeting with John James Henry Lewis OBE in 2011. People may remember Mr Lewis as the man who a) gave Hunt £25,000. b) whose daughter of 24 gave Hunt £5,000, c) Who arranged the flights and meeting for Hunt to travel to New York in 2009 to meet News Corp and who the Tory Shadow Culture Ministers placed in charge of their tourism task force (here).

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