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Miliband piles pressure on Hunt

David Cameron and Jeremy Hunt face "huge" questions over their handling of News Corporation's BSkyB takeover in the wake of the latest evidence to the Leveson Inquiry, Labour leader Ed Miliband said.

Ratcheting up the pressure on the Prime Minister and his beleaguered Culture Secretary, Mr Miliband said this week's disclosures provided "yet more" evidence that Mr Hunt should not have been given responsibility for the deal.

He cited, in particular, the publication of a memo in which Mr Hunt made private representations to Mr Cameron supporting News Corp's bid to take full control of BSkyB.

The document, sent just weeks before Mr Hunt was given quasi-judicial oversight of the bid, expressed concerns that referring the bid to Ofcom could leave the Government "on the wrong side of media policy".

Mr Miliband, speaking in Afghanistan where he has been visiting British troops and holding talks with President Hamid Karzai, said: "From what I have seen from the material I have read on this, I think we have got yet more evidence that Jeremy Hunt wasn't the right person to be taking forward the decision about the BSkyB bid.

"He wrote a memo to the Prime Minister for the bid four weeks or so before taking charge of it and I think it really calls into question David Cameron's judgment about why he appointed him in the first place to take over this bid."

Mr Hunt is also facing embarrassment over disclosures about his personal dealings with News Corp lobbyist Frederic Michel, whom he addressed as "daddy" and "mon ami" in dozens of jokey and intimate text messages.

In exchanges released by the Leveson Inquiry on Friday, Mr Michel responded with flattering comments about the Culture Secretary's "stamina" and "great" performances in TV interviews and the Commons.

Mr Hunt also assured Mr Michel, then European director of public affairs for Rupert Murdoch's media empire, there was "nothing u won't like" in an upcoming speech.

The Leveson Inquiry yesterday released 67 texts sent between the two men from June 21 2010 until July 3 2011, the period when News Corp was seeking to take over satellite broadcaster BSkyB.

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