British Prime Minister David Cameron appeared on BBC One program The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday where he said, “There was no grand deal” to approve News Corp’s takeover of BSkyB. Cameron told the interviewer, “I never had any inappropriate conversations with anyone about this, not least because I’d completely recused myself, taken myself out of any decision making about this important deal.” Cameron was answering a question with regard to James Murdoch’s testimony before the Leveson Inquiry into UK media ethics last week. Murdoch had said Cameron didn’t speak with him about the BSkyB bid at a dinner in December of 2010, except to say he regretted the behavior of Business Secretary Vince Cable. Cable had just been stripped of his responsibilities in overseeing questions about the bid when he told undercover reporters he had declared “war on Murdoch.” Cameron added “Let’s be frank. The thing that people are asking is was there some big deal, some big agreement between me and Rupert Murdoch, me and James Murdoch, that in return for their support of the Conservative Party that I would somehow help their business interests or allow this merger to go through? I mean that is not true.”
Turning to the text and email correspondence that was revealed during last week’s Leveson sessions, Cameron said, “That was wrong, absolutely no doubt about that. The contact between the special adviser in the Department of Culture and News International was too close, too frequent.” Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s adviser, Adam Smith, resigned last week following the disclosure of more than 150 exchanges between his office and James Murdoch’s during the BSkyB bid process. Hunt had taken over Cable’s duties in December 2010. Cameron said that if it is found that Hunt broke ministerial code, he will take action. Hunt is due to appear before the Leveson Inquiry next month. The Prime Minister will also appear in the next several weeks. Today, Cameron is headed to the House of Commons to explain why he is not launching an immediate inquiry into Hunt’s activities. Cameron told Marr on Sunday that he thought the Leveson Inquiry was a better initial forum for Hunt’s testimony
Meanwhile, it’s also being reported that former News International chief exec Rebekah Brooks is preparing to turn over all of her emails and private correspondence with Cameron to the Leveson Inquiry. Separately, the parliamentary culture select committee is set to publish its report Tuesday on the phone hacking scandal at News International. Tory and Labour party representatives who are members of the committee are said to be at odds over how far to criticize the Murdochs. The committee is to vote today on most of the disputed issues, The Financial Times reports.
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