Chris Bryant, WH debate

The government might have broken the law in its handling of News Corporation's BSkyB bid, Labour front-bench MP Chris Bryant has claimed.

Bryant told the BBC's Sunday Politics programme that a criminal offence might have been committed if News International was provided with information about the bid by culture secretary Jeremy Hunt's office.

He said there was also a clear need for an investigation into whether Hunt broke the ministerial code.

The Leveson inquiry published emails last month between News International lobbyist Fred Michael and Hunt's special adviser Adam Smith, who resigned following the revelations.

Bryant told the programme: "The point nobody can run away from in either Downing Street or Jeremy Hunt's office is the fact that every element (News International lobbyist) Fred Michel predicted the secretary of state would say, he did say.

"News International knew information about what the secretary of state was going to say before he said it, and also before commercial operators did.

"That's a criminal offence, a straight-forward criminal offence."

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport said in a statement: "Jeremy Hunt will respond fully to all allegations on his conduct when he gives his evidence to the Leveson Inquiry in due course.

"He is confident that his evidence will vindicate the position that he has behaved with integrity on every issue.

"It has already been made clear that when Fred Michel has claimed in emails to be speaking to Jeremy Hunt, that was not the case."

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