Business, Economics and Jobs

Leveson Inquiry: Tony Blair, Jeremy Hunt to testify next week


Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair leaves after Queen Elizabeth II addressed both Houses of Parliament in Westminster Hall on March 20, 2012 in London, England. Blair will testify before the Leveson Inquiry on Monday.


Dan Kitwood

The Leveson Inquiry will question former Labor party prime minister Tony Blair on Monday about his close ties to Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., the Daily Mail reported. Embattled Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt will appear before the Inquiry three days later, on Thursday. 

Coalition government cabinet ministers Michael Gove, Theresa May, Vince Cable and Ken Clarke are also scheduled to testify next week, the Guardian reported

Blair, who served as Britain's premier between 1997 and 2007, is the godfather to one of Murdoch's children, and the News Corp-owned Sun —Britain's biggest-selling newspaper — backed him in three elections, Agence France Presse reported

On Monday, Lord Peter Mandelson, a former business secretary, acknowledged that both Blair and his successor Gordon Brown "arguably" became "closer than was wise" to Murdoch, according to the Huffington Post UK

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Culture Secretary Hunt, meanwhile, has been eager to appear before the Inquiry as soon as possible to clear his name, after investigators were shown a draft of a private memo in which Hunt urged David Cameron to support Rupert Murdoch's takeover of BSkyB just a month before the prime minister put Hunt in charge of the takeover in a "quasi-judicial" capacity, The Independent reported

E-mails and texts which show what appeared to be a close relationship between Hunt's former special adviser Adam Smith and News Corp. lobbyist Frédéric Michel have also added to the pressure on Hunt to testify, according to the Guardian. 

Last July, News Corp. was forced to drop the bid for the highly profitable broadcaster BSkyB amid public outcry over the phone-hacking scandal, AFP reported. However, 81-year-old Murdoch still controls 39 percent of the company. 

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