1. ITV Report

Vince Cable facing BSkyB bid questions at Leveson

Vince Cable is expected to be asked about his handling of the BSkyB takeover bid, Photo: REUTERS/Phil Noble

Vince Cable has told the Leveson Inquiry how he was careful with meetings and talks on BSkyB to avoid bias.

The Business Secretary admitted he had no background on issues relating to media policy, so he sought the views of his colleagues.

I dealt with economic affairs before taking on this job. I didn't understand how the issues had originated in Parliament... I felt it was helpful to have a background briefing... I wasn't seeking their opinion on whether the merger was good or bad, or whether I should intervene.

The Liberal Democrat Cabinet minister was stripped of his responsibilities for the media in 2010 after The Daily Telegraph secretly recorded him saying that he had "declared war" on News Corp boss Rupert Murdoch.

His removal led to the handover of quasi-judicial oversight over the bid to Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who had previously expressed public support for the takeover to go ahead.

Jeremy Hunt is set to be questioned at the Leveson Inquiry on Thursday. Credit: REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett

Mr Hunt will give his account of his handling of the bid to the Leveson Inquiry tomorrow. The Culture Secretary insists that he oversaw the process "with scrupulous fairness throughout" and has received strong backing from the Prime Minister.

Mr Cable narrowly escaped with his job in December 2010 when he told two undercover reporters that he was seeking to block News Corp's attempt to buy the 61% of BSkyB which it did not already own, by referring the bid to regulators Ofcom.

I have declared war on Mr Murdoch, I think I'll win.

Evidence gathered by the Leveson Inquiry over recent weeks has suggested that News Corp was already dissatisfied with Mr Cable's handling of its bid.

Lobbyist Fred Michel said that "morale was quite low" in the company while Mr Cable's Business Department was in charge of the issue, while Mr Hunt told Mr Cameron in a memo that News Corp executive James Murdoch was "furious" about the Ofcom referral.

James Murdoch was said to be "furious" about the Ofcom referral. Credit: REUTERS/David Moir

After Mr Cable's gaffe was revealed, Mr Michel sent text messages to Government figures including aides to George Osborne and Nick Clegg, branding his comments "outrageous" and suggesting he might have to leave the Cabinet.

Mr Cable is expected to be challenged over whether he gave News Corp a fair hearing and he may also be asked about the ethics of the journalistic "sting" which caught him out.

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