Murdoch meeting criticism dismissed

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has been criticised for talking to Rupert Murdoch at an Olympic swimming event

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has been criticised for talking to Rupert Murdoch at an Olympic swimming event

First published in National News © by

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has dismissed Labour criticism after he met News Corporation boss Rupert Murdoch at the Olympics.

Mr Hunt was filmed by ITN smiling and chatting with the media mogul as the pair shook hands when they bumped into one another after attending a swimming event separately on Friday.

Labour MP John Mann condemned the brief meeting as "quite inappropriate", while Jim Sheridan, a member of the Commons committee which investigated phone-hacking, said it showed the pair were "as close as ever".

Speaking to the BBC News channel, Mr Hunt - who was grilled by the Leveson Inquiry over his office's links with News Corp during the company's bid for satellite broadcaster BSkyB - brushed off the encounter as an "exchange in passing".

Mr Hunt said: "He came over to see me. He knows me and when someone does that you shake their hand; you have to be courteous and polite.

"But I am responsible for the media sector, I meet everyone who's involved in the media sector. He is the person who runs the company that operates BSkyB and is a very important figure so it's my job to meet all these people and indeed I meet the head of the BBC regularly."

Mr Mann said Mr Hunt should have been "avoiding Rupert Murdoch like the plague", following the controversy over phone-hacking and the BSkyB bid.

Interviewer Jon Sopel asked Mr Hunt whether he thought "Oh no, here comes Rupert Murdoch" when he saw the News Corp chairman wave to him outside the Aquatics Centre.

Mr Hunt replied: "I suppose there's quite a lot of water under the bridge under that one but, you know, you meet everyone and that's part of what happens in the Olympics."

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