Jeremy Hunt defends role in clearing News Corp bid

JEREMY Hunt, the culture secretary, was yesterday forced to defend his role in News Corp’s bid for BSkyB, after an alliance of media companies accused him of acting in an “unprecedented manner”.

The alliance, which is made up of BSkyB and News Corp rivals like BT and the Telegraph Media Group, said the culture secretary was wrong not to refer the issue to the competition commission.

Hunt decided not to refer the bid after News Corp offered to spin Sky News off into an independent, publicly-listed company.

Yesterday Hunt dismissed suggestions he had waved the bid through to ensure Murdoch’s newspapers support the Tories at the next election as “conspiracy theories”.

He added: “When James Murdoch came forward with his proposal to hive off Sky News, I did something that I didn’t have to do. I asked for independent advice not from one regulator but from two.”