Frederic Michel, was head of public affairs at News Corp.
A June 2010 email said that Mr Michel had had a call from Mr Hunt’s adviser, Adam Smith, who said he believed that “the UK government would be supportive throughout the process”.
In an email sent on 15 November 2010, Mr Michel told Mr Murdoch “Jeremy” had tried to call him but had received “very strong legal advice not to meet us today as the current process is treated as a judicial one”. “My advice would be not to meet him today as it would be counter-productive for everyone, but you could have a chat with him on his mobile which is completely fine, and I will liaise with his team privately as well,” he wrote.
In another email – on 23 January 2011 – Mr Michel said: “He wants us to take the heat, with him, in the next 2 weeks”. He continued: “He very specifically said that he was keen to get to the same outcome and wanted JRM to understand he needs to build some political cover on the process.”
The next day Mr Michel told Mr Murdoch he had managed to get some information on Mr Hunt’s statement on the BSkyB bid to Parliament due the next day “although absolutely illegal..>!”.
Mr Murdoch told the inquiry that the reference had been a “joke”. “I think the ‘greater than’ and the exclamation point there are a wink – it’s a joke,” he said. Mr Michel’s written submissions to the inquiry suggested that he never had direct contact with Mr Hunt, despite giving the impressions in emails that he had. He explained that the “JH” or “he” in his emails were shorthand for Jeremy Hunt’s team. Mr Jay suggested that liaising with Mr Hunt via Mr Michel was a way of avoiding the appearance of inappropriate informal contact over the bid.
But Mr Murdoch said that it was “acceptable and part of the process”.