Guido has been talking to a former Office of Fair Trading Principle Case Officer who is not confident Hunt can survive this as it brings into question their whole organisation:
“The first thing with mergers and acquisitions is that it is absolutely key to keep the parties at arms length. The OFT is a non government agency, it has a director general who is above the politics so that the BIS cannot lean on them. In practical terms we all know it happens, but to have it so clearly in writing undermines the whole system. It’s a nightmare for the whole structure of the agency.”
Even if there was no contact with “JH” and the News Corp lobbyist directly, the Culture Secretary’s adviser Adam Smith was obviously communicating heavily and the emails are littered with accurate reports of events before they happened. Direct contact or not, these emails are just two examples of both these key OFT rules being broken.
UPDATE: Hunt’s statement will apparently say that the emails are inaccurate and that he wants to set the record straight on the stand. He seems to be gearing up to play the no direct contact angle. Hard to prove that his office was not acting on his behalf…