Documents suggest Murdoch had Tory friends

May 26, 2012 at 1:51 AM

LONDON, May 26 (UPI) -- Text messages released Friday suggest a possible conflict of interest in British Culture Minister Jeremy Hunt's relationship with a lobbyist for News Corp.

The documents -- released Friday by the Leveson Inquiry, which is investigating allegations of phone hacking and other wrongdoing by Rupert Murdoch's media empire -- suggested a close relationship between Prime Minister David Cameron's government and News Corp., The Independent reported. The release included the exchange of about 50 text messages between Hunt, who had been given responsibility for overseeing News Corp.'s purchase of BSkyB, and Fred Michel, a Murdoch lobbyist, with Hunt calling Michel "papa" and other affectionate terms.

Other documents suggested Cameron aides were communicating with News Corp. after the scandal about the hacking of slain schoolgirl Milly Dowler's cellphone exploded.

Hunt is expected to be called as a witness next week. One document suggested lawyers for his department warned him of the importance of appearing impartial.

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