"All hell will break loose" if the culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt ignores a recommendation by Ofcom to refer News Corp's bid to the Competition Commission, Lord Razzall said yesterday.

Speaking at a public campaign meeting of journalists last night at the Houses of Parliament, Lord Razzall said it is "inconceivable that a secretary of state faced with a recommendation from Ofcom should ignore it".

BBC business editor Robert Peston claimed today that the regulator has recommended the referral of the decision to the competition comission.

"I am as sure as I can be that Ofcom has made an unambiguous recommendation that NewsCorp's plan to acquire all of British Sky Broadcasting should be referred to the Competition Commission for further investigation", he said in a blog post.

Ofcom has not yet published a report following its investigation into the impact of the bid on media plurality.

Voicing his own objection to the merger, Lord Razzall told the meeting he felt the campaign was unlikely to be won "on a platform of Murdoch bashing".

It has got to be won, he said, with a focus on technical issues including the potential for monopolisation of pay-per-view TV, cross subsidies and power within broadcast news.

"For all those technical reasons I think this merger should be referred to the Competition Commission," he said.

National Union of Journalists general secretary and fellow speaker Jeremy Dear added that the next step of the campaign should be to ensure Hunt cannot ignore any such recommendations.

"Then when it goes to the Competition Commission that is when we need to back up with evidence all the arguments we're making," he added.

At the same time as the meeting, Jeremy Hunt appeared at the London School of Economics to take part in a debate with broadcaster Raymond Snoddy.

The event was interrupted by demonstrators who gained entry in order to protest against the proposed takeover, following reports yesterday that Hunt had engaged in private talks with News Corp.

Hunt refused to comment on the matter, saying that it was a "quasi-judicial process", with his decision likely to result in a legal challenge from the losing side.

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