Chancellor George Osborne quizzed over BSkyB takeover at Leveson

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Chancellor George Osborne arrives at the Leveson Inquiry
Chancellor George Osborne arrives at the Leveson Inquiry Photo: John Stillwell/PA Wire/Press Association Images

It has to be said George Gideon Oliver Osborne, as he was sworn in, has so far put on an assured and calm performance at the Leveson Inquiry.

We have yet to hear questions about his role in the hiring of Andy Coulson, the former editor of the News of the World, as David Cameron's chief spin doctor.

But Robert Jay QC, the counsel for Lord Justice Leveson, has examined in some detail the Chancellor's role in handing responsibility for the controversial NewsCorp takeover of Sky Television to the Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt.

On a December afternoon in 2010, moments after news broke that Business Secretary Vince Cable had shown his bias against the proposed bid, the Chancellor was at a crisis meeting in Downing Street.

Mr Osborne says it was a suggestion from the civil service not politicians that the bid should be handed to the Departure for Culture, Media and Sport.

The Permanent Secretary at Number 10, thought it a good idea to hand the bid to Jeremy Hunt - despite his previously supportive views about it, he claimed.

"My recollection is that it was Jeremy Heywood's idea," the Chancellor said.

Mr Osborne also denied that he and the Prime Minister had already made up their minds about the merits of Rupert Murdoch's bid and said that James Murdoch "never raised OfCom [the media regulator handling it] with me."